Arthritis; Symptom, causes, signs and treatment

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. Have your knees or surrounding areas become weak, tender or stiff?

Then you must be suffering from arthritis of some kind.

It is the condition where the joints swell and become tender.

It affects people of all ages, sizes and gender including children but common in people aged 65 years and above.

There are different causes and treatments for arthritis.

There are more than a 100 different types but two most common forms of arthritis.

Arthritis is most common in women than men and in overweight adults though it can affect people of all sizes.

It can develop suddenly and overtime and is associated with loss of appetite, anemia and tired feeling.

Types of arthritis

  • – Osteoarthritis
  • -Rheumatoid arthritis

Symptoms of arthritis

  • -Joint pain
  • -Tenderness
  • -Stiffness
  • -Inflammation in and around the joints
  • -Weakness and muscle wasting.
  • -Restricted movement of the joints.
  • -Warm red skin over the affected area
  • -Decreased range of motion

Causes of arthritis

The joint is made up of firm but flexible connective tissues called cartilage that absorbs pressure and shock made by movement and stress on the joints.

  • -There is a likelihood of arthritis if there is a family history of it
  • -An infection to the cartilage can cause breakdown of cartilage tissue
  • -A wear and tear to the cartilage causes arthritis
  • -Abnormal metabolism can lead to gout
  • -Injury leading to degenerative arthritis
  • -Immune system dysfunction.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis often affects those in their mid 40’s or older.

Osteoarthritis begins by affecting the smooth cartilage lining of the joint, causing pain and stiffness.

This makes movement more difficult more difficult resulting in formation of bony spurs called osteoarthritis.

All of the above happens when the cartilage lining roughens and thins out.

When there is severe loss of cartilage, bone begins to rub on bone altering the shape of joints and forcing bones out of their usual place.

In osteoarthritis, the most commonly affected joints are those in

  • -hips
  • -knees
  • -Spine
  • -Hands

Signs of rheumatoid arthritis

  • -Morning stiffness
  • -Pain in joints on both sides of the body
  • -Loss of motion of joints
  • -Chest pain when breathing in due to pleurisy
  • -Dry eyes and mouth.
    If sjorgren syndrome is present
  • -Eye burning, itching & discharge
  • – Numbness
  • -Tingling
  • -Burning in hands and feet
  • -Sleep difficulties.

About Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis begins between age 40 and 50. In this case, the body’s immune system targets affected joints which leads to pain and swelling due to bone and cartilage breakdown.

There is a likelihood of developing other problems with the body, organ and tissue once you develop rheumatoid arthritis.

It is a disease of the synovia that leads to destruction of bone and cartilage in a joint.

Other types of arthritis

-Reactive arthritis

This happens after a throat infection or an infection of the bowel or genital tract causing inflammation of the urethra, joint and eyes

-Polymyalgia Rheumatica

In this case the immune system causes muscle pain and stiffness across shoulder and top of the leg.

-Secondary arthritis

This occurs after a joint injury

-Enteropathic arthritis

This are of two types

  • *Ulcerative Colitis
  • *Crohn’s disease

Enteropathic arthritis

is a chronic inflammatory arthritis that inflames the limbs, joints and spine and associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

-Ankylosing spondylitis

This is a long term inflammatory condition that causes swelling of the tendons, eyes and large joints.

It also affects bones, muscles and ligaments of the spine.

-Fibromyalgia

Affects muscles, ligaments and tendons causing pains.

-Cervical spondylitis

Known also as degenerative osteoarthritis.
It affects joints and neck bones causing pain and stiffness

-Gout

This is caused by too much Uric acid in the body. It causes intense pain, swelling and redness and can affect any joint of the body.

-Lupus

This is an auto immune condition affecting different organs and tissues of the body

-Psoriatic arthritis

An inflammatory joint condition affecting people with psoriasis.

Arthritis in children

Arthritis can affect even children though common in adults.

Most types of childhood arthritis are known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). It causes pain and inflammation in the joints for at least 6 weeks.

The symptoms of JIA improves as a child gets older.

Types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis

-Oligo articular JIA

This is the most common type of JIA.
This can affect up to 4 joints in the body especially the wrists, knee and ankle.

This type of JIA can go away without causing long term damage but comes with a risk of developing eye problem.

-Poly articular JIA( poly arthritis)

This is the second most common type of JIA and affects 5 or more joints.

This type can come up suddenly or develop gradually thus affecting children of any age.

High temperature of 38c or above with an unwell feeling in the child is common with this type of JIA.

-Systemic onset JIA.

Begins with lack of energy, enlarged glands, rash, fever and later on inflame the joints getting it swollen.

This affects children of any ages too.

-Enteritis related arthritis

This type of JIA affects the joints, leg and spine inflaming where the tendons attach to the bone causing stiffness in neck and lower back in teenage years.

This type is linked to a painful eye condition called uveitis

How to diagnose arthritis

  • -A physical exam by a physician to check for fluid around joints, warm or red joints and limited range of motion in the joints then refer you to a specialist if needed.
  • -Extracting and analyzing inflammation levels in the blood and joint fluids can help the doctor determine the type of arthritis.
  • -Blood test can also be used to check specific antibodies.
  • -X-ray, MRI and CT scans can also produce an image of your bones and cartilage.

At the end of the day, when arthritis is experienced with severe symptoms, an appointment with a rheumatologist may lead to faster diagnosis and treatment

Symptom of childhood arthritis

  • -Stiff joint
  • -Swollen joint
  • -Red joint
  • -Hot joint
  • -High fever
  • -Rash
  • -Pale skin
  • -Limping
  • -Difficulty using arm
  • -Appearing unwell
  • -Swollen lymph nodes.

How to treat arthritis

  • -The goal of any arthritis patient is to reduce the amount of pain and work to prevent further damage to the joints by learning to control pain and learning best methods that works to improve quality of life for you through physical therapy, patients education and support.
  • -Using hot compress or cold compress helps to relieve pain with a soothing feeling for most people.
  • -Using aids while walking. E.g., devices, walkers, canes may help take pressure off sore joints.
  • -Weight loss can help if overweight.
  • -Patient education, (self management education)
  • -Physical or occupational therapies
  • -Non pharmacologic therapies
  • -Surgery and joint replacement.
  • -Medications( pain relieving medications) plus all of the above may help.

Medications

  • -Analgesics help to reduce pain though they have no effect on inflammation
    E.g; Acetaminophen( Tylenol)
    Tramadol(Ultran)
    Hydrocodone( vicoden cortab)
    Narcotics containing( perocet, oxycontin)
  • -Corticosteroids

Drugs like prednisone and cortisone refuse inflammation and suppress the immune system.

  • -Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs(DMARD)
    Used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
    These drugs slow or stop the immune system from attacking joints. Eg; Methotrexate( Trexall) and hydrochloroquine( Plquenil)
  • -Bilogics

Used with DMARDs. This are genetically engineered drugs that targets various protein molecules involved in the immune response.
E.g; Etanercept( Enbrel) and Infliximab(Remicade)

  • -Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs( NSAID) these drugs reduce pain and inflammations. E.g; Ibyprofen( Advil,motrin IB) and naproxsn sodium(Aleve).

They are also available as creams, gels and patches to be applied topically to joints.

  • – Counter irritants
    Rubbing creams and ointments that contains menthol or capasaicin over a painful joint can modulate pain signals on the joints and lessen pain.

Lifestyle changes and treatments

  • * Diets; There is no cure for arthritis and no diet to specifically treat it. But foods that help check weight and reduce inflammation may help
  1. -Eat beans
  2. -Eat green leaves and fresh fruits
  3. -Take whole grains, nuts and seeds
  4. -Eat fish
  5. -Avoid tomatoes because it contains a chemical called solacinine. This chemical is linked with arthritis pain
  • *Exercise frequently and keep weight in check
  • *Do not subject your joints to undue stress
  • *Get regular checks with the doctor
  • *Get some sleep
  • *Avoid caffeine
  • * Do not sit in same position for long
  • *Keep track of your medications
  • *Avoid foods that worsen inflammation. E.g.; Animal derived foods and diets high in refined sugar.

Risk factors for arthritis

– Being overweight

  • -Occupations or activities needing repetitive squatting or knee bending
  • -Infections
  • -Injury to the joints can lead to development of osteoarthritis to the joints.

The seven main types of arthritis includes

  • – Inflammatory arthritis; Damage to joints resulting in pain, stiffness and swelling.
  • -Degenerative or mechanical arthritis; Damage to cartilage
  • -Back pain; Thinning of bones caused by osteoarthritis
  • -Soft tissue, musculoskeletal pain; pain in tissues rather than joint and bones
  • -Infection arthritis; Joint damage caused by an infection
  • – Metabolic arthritis; Extreme joint pain caused by build up of uric acid.
  • -Connective tissue disease; Pain and inflammation in tissues, skin, muscles, longs and kidneys.

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Jarahab
I am Ray. Humanist, hunger free activist and founder of a social enterprise. A survivor, writer and author in the making with 5 novels waiting to be published, 10 children's books waiting to be published. Tech enthusiast with dream to change the world through innovative entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur and passionate girl child and Mental Health advocate. A Medical and health professional with a masters in Public health, and here I am as your friend who doubles as a lifestyle blogger. You can always send a private message to me through the contact form or drop your comment, I am all ears.
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