Arthritis simply means inflammation, tenderness, and degeneration of one or more joints, leading to pain. Arthritis is one of the most common diseases that has affected a large population. Arthritis eventually reduces the quality of mobility of the affected joint.
Common areas in the body affected by arthritis are:
· Lower back
· Hands and feet
Signs and symptoms of arthritis:
Different types of arthritis will show various symptoms. Even the frequency, duration and severity is subjective. These are a few prevalent symptoms seen in arthritis:
4. Redness and warmth
5. Decrease in motion of that particular joint
There are more than 100 types of arthritis whose cause and target are different. A few of the most common types of arthritis are:
2. Rheumatoid arthritis
3. Ankylosing spondylitis
5. Septic arthritis
6. Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
7. Connective tissue disease-related arthritis – lupus, SLE etc.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis:
· Morning stiffness of joints can be for a minimum of 30 mins
· Pain scale increases with increase in movements
· Clicking or popping sounds while bending the joints can be heard
· Limited range of motion of the affected joint.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis:
· Morning joint stiffness will last for 30 mins or more
· Movements doesn’t have any relation with the pain scale
· Inflammation of other body parts can be seen
· Low-grade fever in severe cases
· One or more joints will be affected at the same time
Symptoms of gout:
· Increased levels of uric acid in the body
· Bone deformity can be seen in severe cases
· Mostly affects the big toe
Causes of arthritis:
· Most common cause wear and tear of joints from overuse
· Adults over the age of 50 years
· Injuries leading to degenerative arthritis
· Autoimmune disorders leading to SLE or rheumatoid arthritis
· Abnormal metabolism leading to gout
· muscle weakness etc.
Risk factors for arthritis:
· Age: With an increase in age, chances of getting arthritis also increase as the bone and muscle strength decrease.
· Gender: According to a survey, 60% of arthritis patients are women. Hence, women are more prone to arthritis. The only type of arthritis which is more common in men is gout
· Genes: Arthritis can run in the family as well. Autoimmune-related arthritis-like SLE, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis can run in families. So if any one of your family members is suffering from this, a prior checkup can help you detect and prevent it early.
· Old injuries: Any accident or injury to joints can lead to arthritis.
· Over-exercising: Sportspersons or others who apply more pressure on their joints are likely to end up with arthritis in future.
Complications of arthritis:
- Weight gain due to mobility issues
- Reduced quality of day-to-day work due to difficulty in doing daily chores
- Mental health effects usually result from poor physical health. Hence, sometimes arthritis can affect people mentally too.
Treatment for arthritis:
The goal of arthritis treatment is to reduce the pain and inflammation of joints and prevent the future damage and degradation of affected joints.
· Diet plans
· Physical therapy
1. Analgesics: These help to reduce the pain. They don’t work on the root of the disease, nor do they help reduce the inflammation. There are chances where patients can get used to such medications, so using them in moderation is recommended. A few such analgesics used in treating arthritis are acetaminophen, tramadol etc. However, they don’t help in treating the disease. Analgesics play a crucial role in treating pain as the main symptom of arthritis is pain in joints.
2. NSAIDs: The most used medication in the treatment of arthritis is NSAIDs, as these can tackle two main problems that arise with arthritis, which is pain and inflammation. These are OTC (over the counter) medications and are readily available. The most used ones are Ibuprofen and naproxen sodium. They are available in the form of tablets, creams and lotions.
3. Topical counterirritants: These are creams and ointments which contain menthol and capsaicin (derived from hot peppers). These ointments, when applied topically, interfere with the pain pathway and inhibit pain signals to some extent. Though they are not long-acting or highly effective, they are very convenient and easy to use.
4. Others: Depending on the type of arthritis, other medications that can be added to the list are DMARDs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, etc.
As seen above, medications are only temporary treatments for arthritis. However, diet and exercise are highly effective in treating arthritis. With a great diet, we can maintain the health of our bones and muscles. Things to include in your diet are:
1. Fish is an excellent source of protein that helps in building muscle and bones. It also contains a good amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which further helps with inflammation.
2. Seeds and nuts are rich in fibre, calcium, magnesium, zinc etc. Nuts and seeds are an excellent snack option to improve muscle strength.
3. Fruits and vegetables are very rich in fibre and many nutrients. Make sure to consume 2-3 servings of them everyday.
4. Protein, as we know, is the building block of our body. Low protein levels can affect your bone health. So consume equal grams of protein as of your weight (kg) to build your core health.
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