All You Need to Know about Arthritis -Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Lifestyle Changes
Updated: Apr 30
Are you experiencing sudden joint pain, inflammation, and stiffness, which is now bothering you a lot?
And, your pain worsens in the morning with a feeling of fatigue, slight temperature, and a bit of redness with rashes around your joints?
Do you find difficulty in performing the motion, and your appetite decreases?
You might be wondering if you have bumped into something a few days ago which is causing all these symptoms... but there might be something chronic going on, namely, ARTHRITIS.
What is Arthritis?
Starting from the basics, a joint exists at any place in the body where two bones meet. It keeps bone intact and permits free movement.
Cartilage is a flexible connective tissue that surrounds your joints. Cartilage helps in protecting the joints from any stress and mechanical damage.
Reduction in normal levels of cartilage or any other collateral damage to cartilage results in the condition called arthritis.
Arthritis is the swelling or inflammation of one or multiple joints in the body. Arthritis is such a broad category that it covers almost 100 different types.
But here, we will talk about the two types of arthritis that are more prevalent amongst the population: Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Types of Arthritis:
This is the most widespread type of arthritis that has affected millions of people.
This condition happens when cartilage in your joints suffers wear and tear. As cartilage cells are deprived of any blood supply, they don't repair themselves.
Hence, your bones are rubbed against each other over time, resulting in pain, stiffness, and tenderness.
Some common causes of osteoarthritis include injuries, family history, gender, physical activities, and obesity.
Although osteoarthritis can occur at any joint, it more commonly affects hands, knees, fingertips, certain areas of the spine, and hips.
This condition is a result of an autoimmune disorder that does more than just damaging the joints. This makes it a more severe disease than osteoarthritis.
An autoimmune disorder is when the body's immune system attacks your body's tissues. This means that people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis experience a self-attack on their joints and many other areas such as the eyes, lungs, heart, blood vessels, kidneys, and nervous tissue.
The actual cause of rheumatoid arthritis is unknown, but factors that may aggravate the condition are gender, smoking, family history, and obesity.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are more or less similar to osteoarthritis. The differences arise in terms of the progression of the damage as smaller joints of hands are affected first, followed by larger joints such as elbow, shoulder, and hips.
Rheumatoid arthritis also elevates the risk of other chronic conditions such as osteoporosis, multiple infections, carpal tunnel syndrome, heart problems, and lung disease.
What are your Next Steps?
If you suffer from any of the symptoms for a prolonged time, you might have to schedule an appointment with your primary physician to diagnose better.
The doctor is likely to check for your fluid levels around joints. You might run through several tests like anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (Rheumatoid Factor), and ANA (Anti-nuclear antibody).
You might also be asked to undergo MRI, CT scans, and X-rays to rule out the risk of any other complications.
Treatment for Arthritis:
The prime purpose of any prescribed treatment in case of arthritis is to minimise the symptoms experienced.
In terms of medication, analgesics and menthol or capsaicin creams are optimal in reducing pain. On the other hand, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and immunosuppressants are found to be effective against inflammation.
Physical therapy is a key treatment in strengthening the muscles around joints that are affected.
A permanent solution might be surgery which is mostly performed in the case of hips and knees.
Changes you can make in your Lifestyle:
While there is no cure for arthritis, specific small changes in the usual routine can significantly impact your quality of life:
Making dietary changes which include eating antioxidants and increasing the use of herbs such as ginger and green tea while at the same time decreasing any consumption of oily foods, can be a game-changer.
Add supplements like Vitamin C, Vitamin D, b-carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids in your diet might reduce inflammation at the joints.
Making exercise your habit can also prove to be beneficial in suppressing your symptoms.
Getting adequate sleep can also give enough time to your muscles to relax.
How to Proceed with Life After a Diagnosis of Arthritis?
First of all, if a doctor's diagnosis for arthritis comes positive, don't panic!
Closely follow the prescription, and take all medications on time. Supplement your preventive medicines with healthy lifestyle changes, and experience the diminishing symptoms with time.