2015 Blog
Arthritis
12 October 2015
Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 
 
Less common types of Arthritis could occur as a result of other health problems, such as: Lupus (a disease that affects kidneys, lungs, and joints) and Psoriasis (a skin disease that can affect joints sometimes).
 
Symptoms:
Arthritis symptoms vary per type of inflammation. Most common symptoms include:
  • Pain
  • Hardness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Weakness of movement
 
Some (specific) types of arthritis affect other body organs. In those conditions, symptoms are:
  • High body temperature
  • Fatigue
  • Skin rash
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Mouth and eye dryness
 
Causes:
Pain occurs as a result of joint injury. Joint comprises the following parts:
  • Arthrodial cartilage/ Articular cartilage: a hard, smooth tissue covering the articular surfaces of the bones, which eases the bone movement.  
  • Articular capsule: a hard thick membrane that covers all joint parts. 
  • Synovial membrane: the soft tissue surrounding the articular capsule that produces synovial fluid, and serves as a lubricant to ease the joint movement. 
 
How arthritis affect joints?
The two most common arthritis types affect joints in various ways:
  • Osteoarthritis: osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint's cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones. Enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the synovial membrane, causing redness, swelling and joint pain. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
 
Arthritis Risk Factors:
  • Family history. Some types of arthritis run in families, so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have the disorder. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis.
  • Age. The risk of many types of arthritis — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout — increases with age.
  • Your sex. Women are more likely than are men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout, another type of arthritis, are men.
  • Previous joint injury. People who have injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.
  • Obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine. Obese people have a higher risk of developing arthritis.
Complications:
Severe arthritis, particularly if it affects your hands or arms, can make it difficult for you to do daily tasks. Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can keep you from walking comfortably or sitting up straight. In some cases, joints may become twisted and deformed.
 
Diagnosis:

Doctors recommend undergoing tests of the suspected joint inflammation type

  • Lab tests: Subjecting various body fluids could help identify inflammation type.
  • Body fluids subject to examination and analysis:
    • Blood
    • Urine
    • Joint fluid

To obtain a sample of joint fluid, the doctor shall clean the skin over the joint area with an antiseptic, use an atheistic, and then insert the needle into the joint cavity to draw a small amount of fluid.

  • Imaging:

These types of tests can detect problems within your joint that may be causing your symptoms. Examples include:

    • X–Ray imaging
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
    • Arthroscopy
    • In some cases, your doctor may look for damage in your joint by inserting a small, flexible tube — called an arthroscope — through an incision near your joint. The arthroscope transmits images from inside the joint to a video screen.
Treatment:
Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function. You may need to try several different treatments, or combinations of treatments, before you determine what works best for you.
Common Arthritis treatments include:
Medication:
  • Analgesics: drugs that help relieve but don't treat the root cause of the inflammation.
  • Anti-stimulants
  • Non - steroidal Anti - Inflammatory Drug (NSAID), and Disease - modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD)
  • Biologics: Typically used in conjunction with DMARDs, biologic response modifiers are genetically engineered drugs that target various protein molecules that are involved in the immune response. Examples include etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade).
  • Corticosteroid
 
Other Types of Treatment:
  • Physical therapy can be helpful for some types of arthritis. Exercises can improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding joints. In some cases, splints or braces may be warranted.
  • If conservative measures don't help, doctors may suggest surgery, such as:
  • Synovectomy 
  • 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.
 
Prevention:
There is no known definitive prevention for arthritis. Nevertheless, maintaining healthy weight and regular exercise could help decrease the risk. People with Gout are recommended to refrain from eating internal organs such as, kidneys, liver, and sardines.
 
Alternative Therapy:
  • Many people use alternative remedies for arthritis, but there is little reliable evidence to support the use of many of these products. The most promising alternative remedies for arthritis include:
  • Glucosamine
  • Acupuncture
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
 
 
 
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