"Arthritis" means joint inflammation or the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. It is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, leading to the bones rubbing against each other, causing joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It can occur in any joint but is most commonly found in the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, and hips. There are many types of arthritis. Common ones include the following-
Symptoms and Risk Factors Associated with Arthritis
A person with arthritis may experience different symptoms depending upon the type of manifestation. However, the most common sign and symptoms of arthritis include the following:
Other symptoms may include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and muscle weakness.
Risk factors for developing arthritis include age, family history, obesity, prior joint injury, and certain medical conditions. Additionally, gender may play a role in developing some forms of arthritis, as some types are more common in women than men.
Complications - Severe arthritis can interfere with daily tasks, mainly if it affects the hands or arms. In some cases, joints may slowly alter their alignment and shape. Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can refrain from walking comfortably or sitting up straight.
Diagnosis Procedures to Detect Arthritis
Diagnosis of arthritis typically involves a physical examination, patient and family history, laboratory tests, and imaging tests.
o X-rays- They reveal cartilage loss, bone destruction, and bone spurs. X-rays may not show early arthritic damage but can track the progression of the disease.
o Computerized tomography (CT)- They create cross-sectional views of internal structures and help visualize bone and the surrounding soft tissues.
o Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)- It produces more precise cross-sectional images of soft tissues like cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
o Ultrasound- It images soft tissues, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures near the joints (bursae). Also, it helps direct needle placement for drawing joint fluid or injecting drugs into the joint.
Treatment for Arthritis
Treatments for arthritis vary depending on the type of arthritis. The therapy aims to reduce the symptoms and improve the quality of life. The physician may try several treatments or combinations of treatments before determining what works best for an individual. The treatment modalities for managing arthritis include-
· Medications -
o Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for relieving pain and inflammation;
o Counterirritants for applying topically over the skin to relieve pain;
o Steroids for relieving inflammation, pain, and slow joint damage;
o Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) decline the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and protect the joints and other tissues from permanent damage.
· Physical therapy- can help in some types of arthritis. Joints can be strengthened, and their range of motion can be improved by exercise. However, some cases may demand splints or braces.
· Surgery- It may be recommended when conservative measures fail and include-
o Joint repair that smoothes or realigns the joint surfaces to reduce pain and improve function;
o A joint replacement that removes the damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one (majorly performed in hips and knees);
o Joint fusion is employed in smaller joints, like those in the wrist, ankle, and fingers.
Tips for Maintaining Joint Health
Getting enough physical activity helps to prevent or slow joint disorders. Exercise strengthens the muscles around the joints and allows them to perform better.
While playing sports, wearing the right equipment to protect the joints, such as knee pads, is essential. If the joint problems have already started, ask your provider what activities are best for you.
The Bottom Line
is now becoming a common problem due to the changing lifestyle. Staying active
and performing muscle-strengthening exercises to maintain quality of life is
crucial. If you experience any joint symptoms, don't hesitate to visit the
physician immediately. Early diagnosis can prevent further damage to the bone.
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