A range of painful disorders that cause joint stiffness and inflammation are together referred to as arthritis. Any joint in the body, including the hands, shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles, can develop any type of arthritis. It affects more than 50 million adults and is the leading cause of disability in the United States due to its degenerative nature. Persons of any age and gender are susceptible to the disorder, albeit it tends to manifest more frequently in older people and in women. In reality, there are currently about 300,000 cases of the condition in children in the United States.
Various factors, depending on the type, might cause arthritis. While knowing the origins of the various varieties may not prevent you from getting it, it can help you see the disease’s early warning signals. An advantage in battling the joint degradation that comes with every type of arthritis is getting treatment early.
What Are the Types of Arthritis?
Arthritis can be broadly categorized into four basic types: degenerative, inflammatory, infectious, and metabolic illnesses that affect the joints. Osteoarthritis, the most prevalent form of arthritis, is included under degenerative arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. An infected joint can develop infectious arthritis. Infectious arthritis comes in two varieties: reactive arthritis and septic arthritis. In metabolic arthritis, uric acid accumulates and crystallizes in the joint, resulting in the uncomfortable condition known as gout.
One joint, several joints in the same area, or even separate parts of the body may experience the inflammation linked to the various kinds of arthritis. Pain, stiffness, and swelling in the afflicted joints are the main symptoms of all kinds of arthritis. Sometimes the skin itself is unaffected, but the swollen joints seem red and inflamed. The affected joint’s broad range of motion is similarly constrained.
Causes of Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is characterized by the loss of joint cartilage and often results from aging-related wear and tear. When this occurs, the cartilage stops protecting your bones from impact and they begin to literally grind against one another. In addition to causing pain, this limits the joint’s range of motion. Osteoarthritis typically develops gradually, getting worse as people age. However, osteoarthritis may manifest at a much younger age than usual in cases of joint infections and trauma.
Even though osteoarthritis frequently just comes with aging, there are some risk factors that can raise your risk of getting the condition. The main risk factors for osteoarthritis, in addition to age and joint damage, include being overweight, doing a job or pastime that requires repetitive motions, and having a family history of the condition.
Causes of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is one of several autoimmune illnesses that develops when your immune system targets the synovial membrane that surrounds your joints rather than defending them as it should. As the illness worsens, this leads to excruciating inflammation and stiffness that finally permanently harms the bone and cartilage. While the precise causes of autoimmune illnesses are still unknown, the majority of researchers agree that environmental triggers can provoke autoimmune reactions in some people based on heredity.
This means that your risk of having rheumatoid arthritis is influenced by factors such as your family history, gender (women are more at risk than men), and other DNA-related traits. Although it can happen at any age, this type of arthritis often strikes people in their middle years. The body responds to environmental pollutants like asbestos and behavioral patterns like smoking as toxic exposures that may eventually cause an inflammatory reaction that results in rheumatoid arthritis. Obesity raises the likelihood of developing this type of arthritis, just like it does with osteoarthritis.
You should talk to your doctor about your symptoms if you’re having pain, swelling, or other signs that suggest you might have any type of arthritis. Early arthritis symptoms are typically more uncomfortable than harmful, but an early diagnosis allows you and your doctor the ability to stop or delay the disease’s progression rather than only focusing on pain relief alternatives.
Your doctor will likely request blood tests to check for additional signs of arthritis, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and erythrocyte sedimentation rate, as well as X-rays, an MRI, and an ultrasound to examine your joints. To eliminate gout or an infection in the joint, a joint fluid analysis may be performed. You might be sent to a specialist for a targeted treatment plan after a diagnosis has been made.
Typical Treatment Options for Arthritis
The type of arthritis you have and the rate at which it is affecting your joints will determine the exact course of treatment. To relieve the pain and inflammation, your doctor may advise using an over-the-counter analgesic like acetaminophen or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicine (NSAID) like ibuprofen. Duloxetine and disease-modifying antirheumatic medications (DMARDs) are two prescription medicine choices for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, respectively.
In some circumstances, physical therapy can also help to increase range of motion by strengthening and toning the muscles. The goal of occupational therapy is to teach you new techniques to complete everyday tasks that won’t put as much stress on your injured joints. In more severe cases, these therapies might not be effective, and you might require surgery or steroid injections to ease pain. Options for surgery include both those to totally replace damaged joints and those to realign bones.
By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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