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Arthritis: A Painful but Manageable Condition

The human body has 206 bones. Our arms and legs have the most noticeable joints connecting the bones within them. A lot of movements performed by the hands, legs and arms are facilitated by these joints. So, a condition where these essential parts of the human skeletal system are affected is a very disabling one to suffer from. Arthritis is a condition where the joints are affected enough to reduce movement considerably.

Arthritis causes massive amounts of discomfort and can be extremely painful. Most people across the globe think that nothing can be done about arthritis. It is a condition in which the joints of the body suffer inflammation and consequently pain. There are a few variations in the way arthritis manifests itself, resulting in different types of arthritis.

Causes of Arthritis

Although the exact cause of arthritis is not yet known or fully understood, several factors can contribute to developing some forms of arthritis:

  • Injuries, especially sports injuries, can lead to osteoarthritis, a type of arthritis that is related to the wear and tear of the cartilage.
  • Metabolic abnormalities, such as gout, can also cause arthritis.
  • Hereditary factors, such as a family history, of arthritis.
  • Infections can directly or indirectly cause arthritis.
  • Autoimmunity and misdirected immune system problems are observed in rheumatoid arthritis.

The treatment of arthritis depends largely on the causes. An early diagnosis goes a long way in controlling and treating the condition.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Arthritis has several trademark symptoms that help in making a diagnosis

  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Pain in the joints
  • Limited mobility and functioning of the joints
  • Joint swelling
  • A feeling of warmth in the joints
  • Redness of the joints

Some forms of arthritis are rheumatoid and the symptoms may manifest in other organs of the body and include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling of the glands
  • Sudden unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling of fatigue
  • Feeling unwell
  • In rare case symptoms of abnormality in the heart, kidney and lungs

Process and Importance of Early Diagnosis

The diagnosis begins with a physical examination of the joints, and a full and detailed family history. This is usually followed by certain blood and urine tests, X-Rays and joint fluid tests. The physical examination and the test reports give a full picture of the condition and help the doctor make a confirmed diagnosis.

Most forms of arthritis are easily manageable since it is just the pain and discomfort that has to be controlled. This can be done through medication and regular exercise recommended by the physician. However, some forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, require special and intensive care. Early diagnosis of this condition helps not only in controlling the condition but also in avoiding irreparable damage to the joints and cartilages affected by it.

Arthritis Treatment

The treatment of arthritis is dependent on the type of arthritis. However, there are some treatment methods that are followed in the case of most types of arthritis:

  • Physical therapy: Certain exercises are beneficial for people suffering from arthritis. Exercise can control the progress of the disease as well as maintain healthy levels of movement in the joints
  • Cold pack application: This is usually prescribed to control and reduce inflammation and discomfort.
  • Anti inflammatory medication
  • Surgical procedures: In severe cases, where damage to the joint is irreversible, surgical procedures to replace the joint are prescribed.

So, while arthritis can be a very crippling condition to have, it is treatable to the extent that the symptoms either go away almost completely, or are reduced to a manageable level.

FAQ

Will the pain go away completely?

Pain is a result of the inflammation, and controlling the inflammation can help reduce the pain. Medications and exercise are two very effective ways to control pain. However, in some types of arthritis, the inflammation never goes away it can only be controlled with medication.

What are the most common sites of pain?

Hips, shoulders, fingers and knees are the most common sites of pain.

Does one have to be old to contract arthritis?

While aging is one of the major factors behind arthritis, it is not the only cause for arthritis. Juvenile forms of the disease also exist. Also, certain injuries or accidents and childhood obesity can also lead to arthritis.

Does weather have an effect on arthritis?

The connection between the weather and arthritis is not fully understood. Some patients complain of a worsening of the condition in cold weather, while others do not. However, weather cannot cause arthritis, it can only affect the symptoms.