The human body has many different joints where two bones meet. The purpose of our joints is to help our bodies move and bend at these junctions.
Sometimes, things happen in these joints that results in inflammation. When our joints get inflamed we feel pain and our movement is greatly restricted.
While arthritis is most common in elderly people over the age of 65, certain types of arthritis can plague much younger people and even children.
Women are more likely to develop arthritis than men are, and people who are obese are also at a higher risk of living with arthritis.
Today we will be learning about arthritis and discussing different treatment options available.
What Causes Arthritis?
Different types of arthritis are caused by different things.
Below you will find a short list of some factors known to lead to arthritis…
· Injuries can lead to arthritis. For example, when you break a bone you damage the bone. As you age, that damaged bone can come back to haunt you via pain and inflammation. Joints wear down on their own, but injuries help them to wear out much faster
·If a bacteria, fungus or virus finds its way into a joint in your body, it can trigger inflammation that will lead to infectious arthritis. Hepatitis C, STDs and food poisoning bacteria can often lead to this type of arthritis. Although the infection can be treated with antibiotics, the arthritis is often permanent and will need other treatment
·Some autoimmune diseases can lead to arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is itself an autoimmune disease that manifests in the body as arthritis. This type of arthritis can cause damage to far more than the joints. If left untreated, this type of arthritis can result in severe physical disabilities
In addition to these causes, there are other things that can lead to arthritis. The most common form of arthritis seems to be a fact of life as the body ages.
As you age, you may notice that you are not as limber as you once were but that is not entirely uncommon.
If in addition to this, you notice other symptoms such as:
- Having pain in your joints
- Joints that are stiff
- A decreased range of motion
- Swelling in your joints
- Red skin around the joint
These symptoms are usually at the worst first thing in the morning.
Additionally, certain types of arthritis will present with other symptoms as well. For example, people who have rheumatoid arthritis will also experience exhaustion as well as a lack of appetite, and in some cases these patients will become anemic and have persistent fevers. If the person does not get treated, their joints can become completely deformed.
Whatever the symptoms may be, they can range from mild discomfort to extreme pain, and there will be good days as well as bad days. Some people's symptoms get progressively worse over time while other people's symptoms stay the same for long periods of time.
Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis is a very common ailment. Unfortunately, we still don't understand it very well. We have discovered that there are over 100 different types of arthritis and other health conditions that are closely related to arthritis.
Some of the most common types of arthritis are inflammatory arthritis, degenerative arthritis, juvenile arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
Let's take a look at some of these right now…
- Inflammatory arthritis
is a type that encompasses several different forms of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is one such type that falls into this category.
In their research, scientists have discovered that genetics in combination with environmental issues can trigger autoimmune responses in people that are prone to them.
People who suffer with this type of arthritis fare better when diagnosed early, and they need treatment that is much more aggressive than treatments offered to others. They also must take special medications that teat the immune system as well, since most inflammatory arthritis types are actually autoimmune diseases.
- Degenerative Disc Disease
There is a chain of disc like bones in our backs that make up our spines. Sometimes things can happen that cause these discs to lose their integrity.
If your back is injured in some way, it can cause inflammation and reduce your stability making you prone to more injuries. Daily life can wear down discs. As people age, the discs begin to dry out resulting in brittle bones that are easy to damage.
When living with Degenerative Disc Disease, you may find that just about nothing can relieve the pain and everything from sitting to walking causes more pain. This type of arthritis can also cause other issues as well, since the spinal cord rests with the spine. Damage in any shape or form to the spine has a direct effect on the spinal cord. Because of this, the lower extremities are often affected by arthritis in the spine.
is by far the most common form of arthritis.
In healthy joints, there is cartilage that provides cushioning when the joint moves. As people age, their cartilage wears away and their bones begin to painfully rub together. This results in pain, swelling and stiffness.
You can help to slow this process by remaining at a healthy weight, staying active and avoiding getting injured. Sometimes though, osteoarthritis is just a part of aging, and not much can be done about it.
- Juvenile arthritis
is arthritis in children. Within this category, there are several types of arthritis, and they each have their own problems associated with them. Juvenile arthritis is often an autoimmune disease, and as such there is no cure.
Early detection and proper treatment can help a child to have a better quality of life, even though they will be living with pain and inflammation.
Getting A Diagnosis
If you think you may have arthritis, you should make an appointment with your doctor. You can discuss your symptoms with them and they can perform some tests to determine if you do have arthritis and if so, which kind. They can also help determine the best course of treatment for you, allowing you to improve your quality of life.
First, your doctor will perform a physical exam, looking you over for physical signs of arthritis. He'll be on the hunt for things like stiff joints or swelling and redness.
There are several other medical tests your doctor can perform as well. The tests your doctor performs will depend on what type of arthritis your doctor suspects you are dealing with.
They can have certain lab tests performed on fluids that are found in your joints as well as taking a look at your blood to determine inflammation levels and other important numbers.
Your doctor will likely refer you for diagnostic imaging like x-rays, CT scans, and MRI or ultrasound. These tests can take a closer look at your joints than your doctor can without opening you up. They help to give your doctor a much clearer picture of what is going on inside of you so that they can properly treat your issues.
After going through these steps, your doctor can inform you of their diagnosis and you can move forward with a treatment plan that is best for you.
Simple choices that can help reduce the pain and swelling associated with arthritis are easy to find. We've outlined many of these options below so that you can get yourself on the path to healing as quickly as possible.
·If you have arthritis in your hands and fingers, you can do a simple exercise to help relieve the pain. Make a fist and then slowly release it, opening your hand and stretching your fingers wide. Close your hand back into a fist and repeat a few times with each hand
·To relieve arthritic pain in your feet, first ensure you are wearing shoes that fit properly. If your shoes do not fit correctly, you are adding unnecessary stretch to your feet which can cause pain and swelling. Make sure you stretch well before exercising, especially your Achilles tendons. Get a massage to help relieve pain and relax your feet
·Hips and knees are some of the most common joints affected by arthritis. To relieve this pain, try to lose some weight and stay as active as you can. These choices will reduce strain on the joint allowing it to function better
·Spinal arthritis is a different beast from all the others. Arthritis in these joints manifests itself in a plethora of ways, and can cause severe pain. Stretching, yoga and massages are smart choices for helping to reduce pain and swelling in this area
Treatment Options Without Drugs
Before you accept prescription medication to treat your symptoms, you should always check to see if there are lifestyle changes you could make to alleviate your problems.
In the case of most arthritis symptoms, there is much you can do to try to treat it before you go to the pharmacy.
If you are overweight, you are adding extra stress to your joints, especially your knees and ankles. If you lose some of the excess weight, you will reduce the amount of stress you are putting on your joints and this can help give you relief from pain and inflammation in your body.
As with most inflammatory injuries, you can help treat the pain of arthritis with hot and cold therapy. Alternating each time, use ice packs and heating packs on your painful joints to help relieve the pain.
Exercise is great for helping arthritis sufferers. Ensuring your joints stay moving can help them to stay lubricated and keep you flexible. Swimming and other water-based exercise are great options for those who live with arthritis as the water reduces the stress on your joints.
Assistance tools like canes and walkers can help you as well. They can take some of the stress off of your joints and help you get through your daily activities.
Massage is good for arthritis as it can help loosen up muscles and joints allowing you to move more freely.
Physical therapy is another great option. Your therapist can help determine which joints need the most work and can help you to improve your range of motion and they can help you to build stronger surrounding muscles.
There are also some supplements that are said to help relieve inflammation and reduce the pain of arthritis.
In a perfect world, our bodies would function correctly and we would have no need for medical intervention. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world, and from time to time we do need the help of pharmaceutical products to help us live better lives.
If you have exhausted your options in treatment without medications, it's time to turn back to your doctor from stronger relief.
There are a variety of treatment options for arthritis and only you and your doctor can determine what will work best for you. Some of the available options are:
These are medications that will treat the pain and inflammation you experience from arthritis. You can sometimes get NSAIDs over the counter, but prescription options will be stronger. Your doctor can prescribe these as pills or give them to you in a cream that you can rub on the problematic areas
These medications will help to relieve your pain but they will do nothing for the inflammation that is causing the pain. There are several options here your doctor can choose from, but be mindful that some of these choices can be dangerously addictive. Use them as a last resort
This medication is most useful in treating rheumatoid arthritis as it slows your body's immune system as it attacks your joints
These medications are useful for treating the inflammation that causes arthritis but they don't generally alleviate the pain. Your doctor can give you this type of medication as a pill or as an injection
If after trying all options available to you there is still no relief, your doctor may recommend more intense options, like surgery, for treatment.
Surgery can be used to repair your joints by smoothing the rough edges and realigning the joint as it is supposed to be.
Another option is to replace your joints by taking out the one that is damages and replacing it with an artificial joint. Your doctor could choose to do a fusion surgery and fuse two bones together so that they form one unit rather than two.
The inflammation and pain caused by arthritis can make you feel helpless but we hope you now know that there are many treatment options available.
Thanks for reading and we hope you are back to being yourself as soon as possible!