What is Arthritis
Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints. the term is used for more than 100 medical conditions that affect the musculoskeletal system, specifically joints where two or more bones meet.
The types of arthritis range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation resulting from an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis). Together, the many types of arthritis make up the most common chronic illness.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common of all types of arthritis. It usually develops osteoarthritis gradually, over several years, and affects a number of different joints. The cause is unknown, but it does appear more in females than males and often starts after the menopause.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a very common type of inflammatory. In most diseases, inflammation serves a purpose, it helps healing and, when healing is done, the inflammation goes away. In RA the opposite occurs.
The RA inflammation causes damage – it can go on for a long time, or come and go. When it is active – known as a flare-up – you may feel unwell.
The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injuries, Autoimmune disease when the body attacks itself because the immune system believes a body part is foreign, a broken bone, general wear and tear on joints or an infection caused by a virus or bacteria.
There isn’t a single answer to the question ‘what causes arthritis?’, as there are many different forms of arthritis to be considered. Many forms of arthritis run in families to a degree, and some conditions have a stronger tendency to be passed on through genetics.
- Age: The risk of developing many types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (the most common type), increases with age.
- Genetics: Most types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis, have a genetic (inherited) component.
- Gender: Most types of arthritis are more common in females. Some types, such as gout and ankylosing spondylitis, are more common in men.
- Overweight and obesity: Excess weight predisposes to many types of arthritis due to added wear and tear on the joints.
- Injuries: Injured joints are more likely to develop osteoarthritis.
The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:
- Inability to move a joint normally
- Recurring pain or tenderness in any joint
- Swelling in one or more joints
- Redness or warmth in a joint
In the case of inflammatory arthritis, the sooner drug therapies are begun the more effective they’re likely to be. This can reduce the risk of long-term damage to joints and bones. These are some of the well-known drugs:
Acetaminophen. One of the most commonly used pain relievers, it’s usually safe for people who can’t take other medications because they have allergies or stomach problems. But because acetaminophen treats pain and not inflammation, which is a key component in arthritis pain, it might be less effective in some people. When arthritis pain is severe and acetaminophen alone doesn’t help, you may need a prescription acetaminophen that also contains an opioid.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). For people who don’t respond to acetaminophen, an NSAID is often prescribed at the lowest effective dose. Common over-the-counter NSAIDs include Advil and Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen). NSAIDs relieve pain and reduce inflammation, but they can trigger more side effects than acetaminophen. NSAIDs may lead to stomach upset and, with prolonged use, stomach bleeding and kidney damage may occur, warns the FDA. In addition, NSAIDs other than aspirin can increase the risk for heart attack and stroke.
Surgery: If conservative measures don’t help, your doctor may suggest surgery, such as:
- Joint repair. In some instances, joint surfaces can be smoothed or realigned to reduce pain and improve function. These types of procedures can often be performed arthroscopically — through small incisions over the joint.
- Joint replacement. This procedure removes your damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. Joints most commonly replaced are hips and knees.
- Joint fusion. This procedure is more often used for smaller joints, such as those in the wrist, ankle and fingers. It removes the ends of the two bones in the joint and then locks those ends together until they heal into one rigid unit.
Strength training: lifting weights or simply using your own body weight (like doing push-ups or sit-ups). This will help build muscle and can protect your joints from injury
Lose Weight: Obesity can cause arthritis. It puts a lot of stress on your hips, back, and knees. But even if you’re only moderately overweight, you’ll still benefit if you shed some pounds.
Yoga: is a way of promoting flexibility and strength in mind and body. It can improve posture, muscle tone and mobility. It can also help relaxation. Yoga positions have evolved over thousands of years as a way of stretching and readjusting the balance of the spine (the structural and nervous centre of the body). Asanas (positions) move the body in many different directions and this, together with special yoga breathing, stimulates muscles and joints, circulation, digestion and the nervous and endocrine systems.
Massages: there’s evidence that receiving massage therapy once a week for four weeks, and then scaling back to once a month, is enough to reap the benefits of massage. These benefits include pain relief and maintenance of joint mobility. In the early stages of RA, massage may even help slow down the progression of the disease.