Health

How Does Arthritis Affect the Body and How Is It Treated?

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If you sometimes feel stiffness in your hands and wrists or swelling in your ankles or knees, you probably have arthritis. It is a condition that affects the different joints of the body, causing pain and swelling that can prevent you from walking properly, standing for extended periods of time, running, writing or typing, and other common day-to-day tasks.

What are the different types of arthritis?

Arthritis comes in several different types, depending on the affected joint, cause, symptoms, and other factors. Below are examples of some common ones:

  • Gout

This is a prevalent type of arthritis that can strike men and women, young and old. If you have it, you will experience intense and sudden bouts of pain, redness, and swelling in your joints, usually the joint found at the base of your big toe. It occurs when urate crystal deposits (due to high uric acid levels in your blood) form in your joints, triggering inflammation and severe pain.

  • Osteoarthritis

This is the most common type of arthritis. Around the world, several millions of people are affected by it. It happens when the cartilage that protects and cushions your bones suffer from serious wear and tear. It can cause damage to any joint of your body, but it most frequently affects the hips, knees, spine, and hands.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

This is an autoimmune disorder and chronic inflammatory disease that can harm and damage not only your joints but also your heart, blood vessels, lungs, eyes, and skin. It occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly launches an attack on its own tissues. It brings about severe pain and swelling that can eventually erode your bones and cause deformations in your joints.

What are the common signs and symptoms of arthritis?

While there are different types of arthritis, a lot of them share a few symptoms, such as:

  • swelling knee arthritisPain
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Redness
  • Impaired mobility

What are the risk factors associated with arthritis?

Anyone can have arthritis, but there are certain groups of people that are more likely to get it than others. Below are examples of risk factors for arthritis:

  • Age

Your odds of having osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, or some other type of arthritis increase as you get older.

  • Family history

If at least one of your parents, siblings, or other family members has arthritis, you have a greater risk of having the disease than someone whose family members are arthritis-free.

  • Your sex

Certain types of arthritis are much more likely to strike one sex than the other. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis is more likely to strike women than men, while gout is most common in men than women.

  • Obesity

If you are obese, you are subjecting your joints, most particularly your spine, hips, and knees, to excess weight and stress that can wear them down faster.

  • Having a history of joint injuries

If you have injured any joint in the past, such as while running or playing basketball, you are very likely to develop arthritis in that particular joint later on in your life.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

To know if the joint pains, swelling, and tenderness you are experiencing really point to arthritis, you have to see a doctor as soon as possible.

You will need to undergo a physical examination so that your doctor can get a closer look at the condition of the affected joints. He or she will check the swelling, warmth, redness, and other things, and see if you have any trouble moving your joints or how bad your joint’s range of motion has become.

You will then need to take some laboratory tests and imaging tests, depending on the type of arthritis that your doctor suspects you have, such as:

  • Fluid test

A sample of your blood, urine, joint fluid, or other bodily fluids is used to determine the type of arthritis that you may have.

  • X-rays

Through x-rays, any damage to your bones, cartilage, and others can revealed.

  • Ultrasound

This utilizes high-frequency sound waves to visualize cartilage, soft tissues, and bursae.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging or MRI

This uses radio waves and a powerful magnetic field to come up with clear cross-sectional images of your tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and soft tissues.

  • Computerized tomography or CT

This provides a visualization of your bone and the soft tissues surrounding it.

What treatment options are available to cure arthritis?

The treatment options for arthritis can relieve the pain and swelling of the joints, and enhance joint mobility and function. Your doctor may prescribe or recommend any of the following medications, depending on what type of arthritis you have:

  • Painkillers

pain reliever tabletsThese can be over-the-counter or prescription medications that can get rid of the pain in your joints. However, they cannot do anything for the swelling and inflammation. For very intense pain, your doctor may prescribe opioids or hydrocodone, while for less severe pain, acetaminophen may be recommended.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs

These can get rid of the pain, and the swelling and inflammation in the joints. Some of them can be bought over-the-counter, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, while some require a prescription.

  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs or DMARDs

These are commonly prescribed for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It slows down or prevents your immune system from launching an attack on your joints.

In certain cases, surgical procedures, such as the ones enumerated below, may be necessary:

  • Joint replacement

This is done to remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial joint.

  • Joint repair

This is done by realigning or smoothing the joint surfaces to eliminate the pain and inflammation.

You can also try the following home remedies to relieve arthritis pain:

  • Heat therapy

This can improve blood circulation and relax stiff joints and muscles.

  • Weight loss

This can decrease the stress and pressure that your joints carry, reducing the pain and improving motion.

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