Arthritis is not a single disease but rather a group of conditions that affect the health of the bone joints in the body. These disorders are referred arthritic diseases.
- Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, which are autoimmune diseases
- septic arthritis, caused by joint infection
- Osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease
There are several possible causes of arthritis and that shows that can be caused by sprains and injuries from repetitive motion, sports, overexertion, and falls. Next to the pain that can be caused by a single movement, arthritic joints may be sensitive to climate change. The increased sensitivity is thought to be caused by the affected joints developing extra nerve endings and in an attempt to protect the joint from further damage. Arthritis limits it everyday activities such as walking, dressing and bathing.
Osteoarthritis is the most common one of medical conditions. About 43 million people have arthritis or other rheumatic diseases. Arthritis is actually the leading cause of disability, limiting the activities of more than 16 million adults. Arthritis results in 39 million physician visits and more than half a million hospitalizations each year. Women are affected by osteoarthritis little more often than men.
Types of arthritis
Represents a degenerative disease of specific joints in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint being damaged, causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub. This is the most common type of arthritis.
Unlike the previous type, this is an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the activity of the body’s immune system.
This is a very common condition, which primarily affects men. Usually it is the result of a defect in body chemistry and can be very painful. In most cases, it attacks small, especially the big toe joint.
This is a type of arthritis that affects the spine and most experts believe it could be the result of inflammation, the bones of the spine grow together.
This is nothing more than a general term for all types of arthritis that occur in children. Children may develop rheumatoid arthritis or lupus forms, ankylosing spondylitis or other types of arthritis.
Systemic lupus erythematosus
This is a serious autoimmune disorder that can inflame and damage joints and other connective tissues throughout the body.
This is a famous connective tissue disease that causes a thickening and hardening of the skin.
The fibromyalgia is a serious disease characterized by widespread pain affects the muscles and attachments to the bone.
Pathophysiology of arthritis
A tissue called cartilage within a joint prevents the bones rubbing together. Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage erodes or breaks. The bones begin to rub against each other, causing pain and difficulty moving the joint. Osteoarthritis can also affect nearby bones, which can become enlarged at some points. These extensions are called bone spurs or osteophytes. The medical term that ends in “itis” always refers to inflammation. While this is the truth and the term arthritis means inflammation of the joints, there is relatively little inflammation in the joints of most people with osteoarthritis. That’s why many experts and health professionals prefer to call it degenerative joint disease.
Symptoms of osteoarthritis
The most common and most important sign of arthritis is pain in the joints. Because osteoarthritis can range from mild to severe pain associated with it can also be mild to severe and usually is aggravated by movement.
Osteoarthritis can affect nearly all joints of the body. There are some rules about the distribution of pain: osteoarthritis may be limited to a single joint or start in a joint, usually the knee, hip, hand, foot or spine, or may involve a number of joints.
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The most common symptoms include:
- Joint pain and swelling after activity or in response to climate change
- Limited flexibility, especially after not moving for a while
- Bony bumps at the end of the fingers
- A feeling of friction when the joint moves
- Numbness or tingling in an arm or leg
Causes and risk factors of arthritis
Although arthritis is certainly not caused by a single factor, they are still unsure about the causes of this disorder.
Years – Age is definitely a major risk factor. This is because osteoarthritis usually occurs in older people.
Hormones – People with diabetes may be prone to osteoarthritis. Other endocrine problems such as acromegaly, hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, and obesity also can promote their ‘development.
Sports – related injuries – Thereno doubt that some sports related injuries caused by repetitive movements can increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Genetics – Genetics also plays a role. The abnormal anatomy as the difference in length of the legs can be the cause of osteoarthritis. If both parents have this condition, therea possibility that the child also develops.
There are some other factors that may increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Some of the most common are:
- Joint infection
- Repeated episodes of gout, wherein the calcium or uric acid crystals in the joints causes episodes of inflammation
- Avascular necrosis, a condition in which the blood supply to the bone near the joint is interrupted, leading to bone death and eventual joint damage.
- Repeated episodes of bleeding into the joint, can occur in hemophilia or other bleeding disorders
- Chronic inflammation caused by rheumatic disease earlier, such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Osteoporosis, which can increase the risk of bone fractures, sometimes leads to osteoarthritis if the fracture is near a joint
- Metabolic disorders, such as hemochromatosis, in which a genetic abnormality leads to an excess of iron in the joints and other body parts
The diagnosis of arthritis
There are several ways to diagnose arthritis and some of the most common are:
Radiography – Xrays can show narrowing of the joint space between osteophytes, cysts, and hardening the underlying bone.
RM – This is a very effective technique noninvasive image and does not use radiation like X-rays. It is able to visualize all the structures inside the joint.
TC – Mainly provides information on the bony structures of the joint, but in greater detail than plain radiographs.
Analysis of joint fluid
A specific fluid can be removed from the knee with a needle, in cases where the diagnosis is uncertain or if an infection is suspected.
The overall objectives of treatment are:
- The early elimination of risk factors
- Early diagnosis and monitoring of disease
- Adequate pain
Because the treatment is not complicated and should start with some simple counter pain medications, followed by NSAIDs.
Some prescription NSAIDs are the most widely used COX-2 drugs.
Self-Care at Home
Weight Loss – Most experts agree that it is recommended, especially for women, to lose some weight. Weight loss can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis in the knees.
Exercise – Regular exercise can help strengthen muscles and potentially stimulate cartilage growth. However, high impact sports should be avoided.
Diet – Several studies have shown that antioxidant vitamins C and E can provide some protection. Vitamin D and calcium are recommended for strong bones. The recommended daily dose of calcium is from 1000 to 1200 mg. The actual amount for vitamin D is 400 IU per day.
Heat – Many patients say that a simple hot application can relieve pain.
Several surgical options are available to relieve pain and improve joint function.
Arthroscopy is the examination of the inside of a joint using a small camera (endoscope).
Arthroplasty is the repair of a joint, wherein the joint surfaces are replaced with artificial materials.
Chondroplasty is a surgical cartilage repair.
Arthrodesis is a very good and effective procedure. It represents a surgical fusion of the bone ends of a gasket which prevents movement of the joint. The procedure is done to help block pain further by preventing any movement of the joint.
Joint replacement is the last possible option if all other methods have proven ineffective. The diseased or damaged bone ends are being removed and replaced with an artificial joint, consisting of a combination of metal and plastic. Prosthetic joint replacement and hip replacement are the most common.