Orthopedic Diseases
Arthritis

​Overview:

  • Arthritis is an inflammation that affects the joints and their surrounding tissues. 
  • There are many types of arthritis. A person can have more than one type at the same time. 
  • The causes of many kinds of arthritis are unknown.
  • Its symptoms vary based on each type. They can develop either gradually or suddenly. 
  • There are no specific ways to prevent arthritis; however, you can control its risk factors. 

What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term for conditions that affect the joints or the tissues around them. There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Most of them cause pain and stiffness in the joints or around them.  Moreover, some types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis affect the immune system and some internal organs.

Types:
  • Osteoarthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. It is a very common type of arthritis.
  • Gout
  • ​Fibromyalgia
There are many types of arthritis, and a person can have more than one type at the same time. Other kinds of arthritis include: Ankylosing spondylitis, septic arthritis, reactive arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and thumb arthritis.

Cause:
The causes of many types of arthritis have not been identified; however, gout is caused by excess uric acid in the body. Also, some factors like genetics, lifestyle, and environment can have an effect on developing various types of arthritis. 

Risk factors:
  • Aging
  • Gender (most types of arthritis affect women, while gout is more common in men)
  • Hereditary factors
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Infections
  • Occupational risks
  • Smoking

Symptoms:
Symptoms vary depending on the type of inflammation. They can develop suddenly or gradually over time. Furthermore, symptoms may come and go, or persist over time. Symptoms include: Pain, stiffness, and redness in the joints and around them.

When to see a doctor?
You should see your doctor when you feel pain, or notice stiffness or swelling in one or more joints.

Complications:
If the inflammation affects the joints of the arms, it can be difficult to perform daily tasks. Inflammation in other joints can limit movement, like walking or sitting properly, and the joint may be sprained, deformed, or stiff.

Diagnosis:
Doctors diagnose arthritis using the patient's medical history, a physical examination, X-rays, and blood tests.

Treatment:
Treating arthritis depends on reducing the pain and resulting damage as much as possible. It also targets improving or maintaining joint function through medications, physical therapy, patient education, and sometimes surgery.

Prevention:
There is no way to prevent arthritis, but you can control its risk factors by following the tips below: 
  • Maintain a healthy weight by sticking to a healthy diet.
  • Exercise regularly. 
  • Quit smoking. 
  • Protect your joints from injuries by doing special exercises.
  • Ensure that your work site provides safety from the risk of falling. Make sure there is space, equipment, and tools that suit your physical ability.

Living with arthritis:
People with arthritis can live a healthy life by maintaining a balanced lifestyle and following the doctor's orders.
  • Arthritis and physical activity: 
    • Partaking in moderate physical activity, such as walking, cycling, and swimming, can alleviate arthritis pain and improve your mood and quality of life. Also, physical activity can delay the onset of complications associated with arthritis, and help treat other chronic diseases, such as: Diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
  • Tips for safely practicing physical activity with arthritis:
    • Start slowly and gradually, for example: Do your activity for 3-5 minutes twice a day. Gradually increase the duration of your activity, by adding, for example, 10 minutes to your exercise every time. Give your body enough time to get adjusted to the new level of activity before adding more minutes.
    • Modify your activity if you notice that arthritis symptoms become severe. These symptoms include: pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Try to stay as active as possible without worsening your symptoms.
    • Avoid vigorous activities to keep your joints safe. Choose activities that are easier on the joints, such as: Walking, cycling, or water aerobics.
    • Do physical activity in safe places, such as areas where sidewalks or paths are level, free of obstructions, well-lit, and separated from heavy traffic.
    • Talk to your doctor about the physical activities you are allowed to do in accordance with your body's capabilities and health goals.
FAQ:
  • Is it normal for arthritis patients to feel pain when exercising?
    • It is normal to notice some pain, stiffness, and swelling after starting a new program of physical activity. It may take 6-8 weeks for the joints to become accustomed to the new level of activity. Continuing your activity will alleviate pain on the long run.  If you feel pain, reduce the intensity of the physical activity you are doing, either by reducing the number of days you do it, or its duration. 
    • It is advisable to try different types of exercises that put less strain on your joints. For example, switch from walking to water exercises, with a proper warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise. Remember to exercise at a comfortable pace. To do that, see if are able to continue talking comfortably without difficulty breathing during exercise. Also, wear the right, comfortable shoes for your exercise. 
  • When should I see a doctor after exercising?
    • If you feel the following:
      • Sharp pain, constant stabbing, or pain that forces you to limp.
      • Pain that persists for more than 2 hours after exercise, or gets worse at night.
      • Pain or swelling that does not improve with rest, medications, or cold or hot compresses.
      • Significant swelling or redness in the joint.

Clinical Education General Department
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