Arthritis is an extremely popular health condition that unfortunately affects people of all ages, genders, and races. Despite its popularity worldwide, arthritis is often misunderstood and neglected, which leads to the inability to fully treat it. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, which only makes identifying and curing the condition more complex. In the United States, there are more than 54 million adults and 300,000 children suffering from the condition. And these are only the official numbers.
If you’re having doubts that you may be suffering from arthritis or may be noticing some of the first signs, it’s important to have as much information as possible in order to make the right decisions and prevent long-term problems. In this article, we’ll share with you everything that you need to know about arthritis. We’ll answer some main questions like what is arthritis, what its symptoms are, and what potential treatments you can look into.
What is arthritis?
Before we can discuss what brought you to this place and how to leave unharmed, it’s essential to first define arthritis. In simple words, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. While the condition could only mean one inflamed joint, it could also affect several joints at the same time, turning into an extremely painful and uncomfortable state. As we mentioned, there are many different types of arthritis and each one occurs for a different reason and demand a different treatment method.
Of all the known kinds, two are the most prevalent – osteoarthritis or OA and rheumatoid arthritis or RA. Although you could gradually start noticing symptoms of the condition over time, there are also cases where the patient suddenly starts experiencing intense pain. Despite the fact that arthritis is predominantly associated with older people over the age of 65, it can also affect kids, teenagers, and young adults.
Symptoms of arthritis
Now that you know what it is, you may be wondering how you can identify the condition. What type of pain is common for arthritis?
Some of the most common symptoms include pain in or near the joints that is persistent and does not go away. This is usually a red light that signals that it’s time to see a doctor. In general, arthritis symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, and potential swelling in the affected zone. In addition, patients may notice that they are no longer able to freely move as much as they could before the pain began. The skin around the joints may also appear irritated and could turn red.
The majority of arthritis patients find the symptoms are strongest during the morning hours, once they’ve wakened up and the body is still not warmed up. Some forms of arthritis could also make the patient feel tired, demotivated, and with a loss of appetite. This is mainly a result of the weakened immune system that is struggling to function properly. For example, patients suffering from RA may become anaemic or their red blood cells may decrease. You could also experience fever and long-term joint deformity.
What are the causes?
But how do arthritis patients get the condition? Is it because of improper nutrition, an unhealthy lifestyle or lack of rest? Let’s look at the cause from a more scientific perspective.
The human joints are protected by cartilage. Cartilage is a strong yet flexible connective tissue found inside the joints. Its main purpose is to absorb pressure that is put on the joints during movements and physical exercise. Once the level of cartilage is reduced, the joints are left unprotected and the chance of developing arthritis becomes much higher.
Once the joints are worn out as a result of normal physical movement, in most cases OA occurs – the most popular type of arthritis. Especially if the joints have been injured or infected, the condition spread even more quickly. The disease is also genetically transferred and if you have people in your family that have suffered from arthritis in the past, chances are that you are more exposed to the disease.
However, arthritis types like RA are considered an autoimmune disorder and appear once the immune system no longer functions properly and attacks the body’s tissues. This leads to problems with the synovium, which is a soft tissue that is responsible for the creation of a fluid that serves as a lubricant for the joints and keeps them healthy and strong. There is not enough information available as to why the body’s immune system starts these attacks. However, there is evidence of genetic markers that make patients more vulnerable to the disease.
How do you know if you have arthritis?
In order to establish whether or not you are suffering from arthritis, it’s essential to speak to a doctor. Your doctor will be able to conduct a physical test to inspect the state of the fluids surrounding the joints, to check for warm or red joints, and establish whether there is evidence of limited movements or joint motion.
The doctor may then advise you to visit a rheumatologist, who is a specialist in arthritis and will be able to provide detailed guidance on treatments. In addition, blood tests could help identify whether or not you have arthritis by analyzing specific antibodies. Such tests include the anti-CCP, RF, or ANA. An X-ray of MRI could also be efficient as they offer a presentation of your bones and cartilage.
Can arthritis be treated and how?
As you can see by now, arthritis is not something you want to have forever as it may seriously affect your ability to comfortably perform your everyday activities. In general, arthritis is not a condition that could be entirely cured forever, However, the symptoms and pain could dramatically be decreased, allowing the patient to return to a normal lifestyle and way of living. Treatments can also stop and future damage to the joints, which is essential in order to prevent other, even more, serious diseases in the long term.
Some people find that thermoregulation is an efficient way to reduce pain. Heating pads and ice packs are found to be helpful in some cases. Other people prefer to rely on devices that help with mobility such as canes or walkers to minimize the stress put on the joints. The choice of treatment often depends on the age of the patient and their lifestyle and needs.
One thing is the same for all patients – it’s extremely important to help your joints recover their proper function. This usually happens with a combination of methods. Apart from the additional treatments, there is also specific medication available for arthritis patients. Some of the most common medications prescribed to people suffering from arthritis are:
- Menthol – Menthol is efficient in stopping the pain transmissions that are sent from the joints to your brain. As a result, the medication offers instant relief. The same could be achieved with capsaicin creams.
- Ibuprofen – Ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like salicylates are efficient in controlling and stopping pain and inflammation. Such medications, however, could have negative impacts on the body as they can make the blood thinner. They should only be consumed with prescription and in the appropriate doses.
- Analgesics – Examples of analgesics include Vicodin or hydrocodone and acetaminophen or Tylenol. They can successfully stop the pain in the body but are not suitable for the long-term treatment of arthritis.
Apart from medications, arthritis patients could also improve their condition with surgery. The surgery often includes joint replacement, where possible. This is normally conducted on the knees and hips and would depend on how serious the condition is. In addition, there is a range of physical therapy options that patients can also take advantage of. These include physical exercises that aim to make the muscles surrounding the joints stronger.
There are also different accessories like Arthritis Gloves that can help you feel better and relieve the pain. In cases where the hands, fingers, or wrists feel stiff and painful, the gloves offer compression that will help you get through the day easily and without any pain. They’re efficient in stopping the swelling and are created with highly elastic materials and moisture-trapping fabrics.
Patients can also use AcuPuncture Energy Pens that are designed to restore the comfort that is usually lost in a range of diseases, arthritis included. It’s a modern solution that replaces the need for needles to perform acupuncture and makes this type of treatment available to patients from their homes, working space, and even when on the road.
Arthritis is a serious joint condition that should not be underestimated. Even if the initial signs are nothing too dramatic, the condition will quickly develop and could seriously affect your way of life. Seek help early on and consider the right type of treatment for you. We hope that this article has helped you gain a better understanding of what arthritis is and how it can be cured.