Everything You Need To Know About Arthritis & It’s Management
Arthritis is not a disease in itself, but it is a broad term used to classify more than 100 illnesses that affect the joints of the body. A joint is referred to the part of the body where two or more bones meet. Arthritis causes inflammation of the joints, which causes pain and discomfort. The different types of arthritis have other causes with various treatment techniques. Arthritis can be mild or severe and infect people of all ages (including children).
Some body parts are more prone to arthritis than others. Some of the arthritis-prone regions in the body are:
- Lower Back
The most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Gouty arthritis or Gout
What Causes Arthritis?
The exact cause of many arthritis types is still unknown. Most types of arthritis-like occur due to a problem in the immune system that promotes the body to attack its tissues near the joints. This can also be inherited genetically.
Some of the main arthritis causes are as follows:
- Reaction from other injuries
- Wear and tear of a joint
- Old age
- Muscle weakness
- Autoimmune disorders or viral infections
- Family history or inheritance
Smokers have more tendency to develop arthritis than nonsmokers. You also become more prone to suffer from arthritis if you don’t do any physical activity.
What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?
The symptoms of arthritis do not occur instantaneously and evolve over time. Also, the symptoms that arthritis causes differ from one person to another. But a person suffering from arthritis will have the following symptoms related to the joints:
- redness in a joint
- warmth in a joint
- swelling in a joint
- reduced movement or stiffness of a joint
Some arthritis symptoms which can occur in other bodies are:
- Weight loss
- Feeling sick
When to Visit a Doctor for Arthritis?
If you experience pain, inflammation or stiffness in your body without any clear reason and it has lasted for more than a few days, it is recommended to visit your doctor. You might also notice redness and warmth in the inflamed area. It is also recommended to start the treatment of the symptoms of arthritis as soon as possible to reduce the risk of the condition getting worse and causing long-term damage to your body.
How is Arthritis Diagnosed?
Like with most diseases, the healthcare professional will ask you for the symptoms of your sickness. They will try to verify if your symptoms match those of arthritis or an autoimmune disease. A lot of arthritis tests can be done to look for signs of inflammation or other symptoms of arthritis. E.g:
- A fluid sample may be extracted from the joint, which can be further analysed
- A CT scan, ultrasound, or X-ray can inspect any damage in cartilage or the narrowing of joint spaces.
Diagnosis of arthritis can be a difficult and long process in some cases. If you have consulted with a general physician, he might recommend you visit a rheumatologist who is an expert in joint-related illnesses.
Is Arthritis Curable?
At present, there is no definite cure for arthritis. The primary goal of arthritis treatment is to lower pain and prevent further damage to the inflamed area.
Generally, arthritis is treated with a combination of the following methods:
- Medicine: Many medicines are available on the market to treat arthritis. Some of them include:
- Analgesics such as Vicodin and Tylenol help pain management but are ineffective in decreasing inflammation.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) help manage pain and inflammation.
- Menthol or capsaicin creams block the pain signals from your joint to the brain.
- Steroidal drugs are effective in reducing inflammation.
- Immunosuppressants are only prescribed to patients with moderate to severe inflammatory arthritis.
- Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) suppress the immune system.
- Supplements: There are not a lot of supplements for the treatment of arthritis backed with clinical data. A few supplements might help in a specific type of arthritis. E.g., avocado and soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) might help with Osteoarthritis symptoms. Turmeric and Fish oil supplementation might help in the reduction of inflammation in the case of Rheumatoid arthritis.
- Surgery: Healthcare professionals recommend surgery only for patients with severe cases of arthritis. There are two different types of surgeries that one can undergo:
- Joint Replacement: The joint is replaced with an artificial joint. Joint replacement is mostly done to replace hips and knees, and this type of surgery preserves joint movement and function.
- Joint Fusion: In this type of surgery, two or more bones are fused together permanently, therefore eliminating the joint and the inflammation. Joint fusion is commonly performed in fingers and wrists.
- Physical Therapy: Physical Therapy can improve the range of motion of your joints, and it will also improve your strength and overall mobility. Physical therapists also recommend many exercises you can do at home to improve your range of motion even further.
What Changes in Lifestyle Can Help Arthritis Patients?
There are a few changes which you can adopt in your lifestyle to ease the arthritis problem:
- Losing excess weight can reduce the symptoms of arthritis and can also reduce the risk of arthritis if you don’t have it.
- Avoid Smoking or Chewing tobacco.
- Eating nutritious food helps in weight loss which further helps manage arthritis.
- Avoid eating fried foods, dairy products, processed foods or high quantities of meat.
- Eating a gluten-free diet may also ease the symptoms of arthritis.
- Exercising regularly will help to increase the overall mobility of your joints.
- Swimming is also a great exercise because it does not pressure any specific joints as walking or running does.
What are 10 Exercises I Can Do to Help Arthritis Symptoms?
Here is a list of 10 exercises that you can do to ease arthritis symptoms:
- Water walking – Physical therapists recommend walking waist-deep in water because it lessens the pressure on joints by half compared to walking on land.
- Water aerobics – Compared to conventional aerobics, water aerobics decreases the impact on your joints by 75 per cent.
- Swimming – It engages all your muscle groups and improves cardiovascular endurance.
- Pilates – It helps in strengthening the muscle and stretching the spine.
- Golf – This game engages your lower back, wrist, hands, shoulders, and legs. Moreover, you will walk a lot if you don’t take a motor cart.
- Yoga – This helps in the reduction of arthritis pain and stress, and it can also improve the overall flexibility and mobility of your body.
- Walking – It helps in relieving the pain of arthritis and strengthens muscles. You can choose to walk indoors on a treadmill or outside.
- Tai Chi – It reduces arthritis pain and improves body balance.
- Cycling – It engages all the muscle groups in your body.
- Elliptical Machine – Physical therapists recommend using an elliptical machine because the machine does a fraction of the work. It also promotes a fluid and circular motion in your joints.
Why is Exercising so Important for Arthritis Symptoms?
Below are the benefits of exercise which make it so important for Arthritis patients:
- Exercising regularly helps in keeping your joints flexible and strong.
- It promotes pain relief for many types of arthritis, including arthritis in knees, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
- Exercising can also help you in your weight loss journey, which further helps in easing symptoms of arthritis.
- It helps in the reduction of stress and improves the overall mobility of your body.
- It helps in the improvement of balance.
- It strengthens the muscles, which support the joints better.
- It improves your sleep cycle and boosts your energy and mood
What are the Symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
Joint inflammation, pain and stiffness are common symptoms of most types of arthritis. Some of the symptoms which are specific to osteoarthritis are as follows:
- Clicking or Popping sound while bending
- Muscle weakness near the joints
- Restricted range of motion which can be cured with movement exercises
- Instability of the joint
- Grating feeling in the knees
What are the Main Causes of Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, which is prevalent in people who are more than 50 years old. Generally, it is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage that protects the end of the bones in your joints. Cartilage is a slippery and firm tissue that ensures frictionless movement of the joint. With age, the cartilage undergoes wear and tear, which induces friction between the two bones and causes them to rub against one another. Some of the risk factors that might increase the likelihood of osteoarthritis are:
- Old age
- Sex: Women are more likely to suffer from osteoarthritis
- Joint injuries
- Recurring stress on joints.
Can a Person Be Cured of Osteoarthritis?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis. But with proper treatment and care, the underlying condition does not worsen over time. The interventions to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis include medication & supplementation, Physical therapy, Exercise, Lifestyle modification, etc.
What are the Complications Associated with Arthritis?
If the symptoms of arthritis are left untreated, the situation can get worse and cause a multitude of complications. Here are some of the possible complications which might occur if arthritis is left untreated:
- Reduced Mobility: One of the major symptoms of arthritis is the reduction in mobility. It can get to such a stage where it might hinder your day-to-day activities and may keep you from favourite activities.
- Weight gain: Reduced mobility and discomfort in movement will keep you from physical exercising and increase the possibility of gaining weight. Gaining excess weight will further deteriorate the condition.
- Metabolic Disorders: Obesity and an inflammatory illness like arthritis can promote the risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, high blood pressure, etc.
- Inflammation in other parts of the body: If the cause behind your arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, the inflammation can extend further from joints to your blood vessels, skin, lungs, etc.
- Increased likelihood of falling: People suffering from osteoarthritis are more prone to falling and possible fractures of bones. This is mainly attributed to muscle weakness but can also occur due to dizziness from arthritis medication.
- Inability to work: If left unchecked, arthritis can result in severe loss of mobility which will decrease your ability to work in an office.
- Mental health: The continuous pain & inflammation in joints and isolation from social circles can increase the risk of depression and anxiety.
Based on the above discussion, arthritis is an umbrella term for more than 100 types of joint-related illnesses. Arthritis can be caused due to various reasons, including obesity, lack of exercise, genetics, autoimmune disorder, etc. Arthritis patients suffer from inflammation, pain, stiffness, redness and warmth near the joint region. Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. But you can manage the symptoms of arthritis effective by adopting an active lifestyle, avoiding tobacco & alcohol, having a balanced diet, etc. If the arthritis is left unchecked, it can lead to many complications that might hinder you from performing your daily routine.
What is the most painful type of arthritis?
There is no way of telling which type of arthritis hurts the most. The pain experienced depends on many factors like the patient’s endurance capacity, the severity of the illness, etc. However, one of the most painful types of arthritis is Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Does cold weather worsen the arthritis condition?
Cold weather does not induce arthritis in the body. However, researchers have evaluated that the pain and stiffness resulting from arthritis are worse in cold weather.
Does arthritis impact your sleep cycle?
A study concludes that most people suffering from arthritis experience difficulty sleeping. The sleek and thrived body worsens the other symptoms of arthritis. Talk to a medical professional to seek advice for improving your sleep schedule.
Does arthritis pain increase during nighttime?
Yes, arthritis pain increases during nighttime because the body releases less cortisol during the night. Cortisol is an anti-inflammatory chemical which helps in easing the pain naturally.
Are Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis the same disease?
No, they are not the same disease. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis that causes pain in joints and reduces the mobility and function of the joint. In contrast, Osteoporosis is a condition where the bone mass is severely reduced, which increases the risk of bone fractures.