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Living With Arthritis:
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves the inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis isn’t a life sentence, but it can be life changing. This painful condition may interfere with the simple daily tasks while managing the family life and juggling with the work can become exhausting. Some types of arthritis also affect other body parts such as the skin and internal organs.
Arthritis affects people of all ages, but it is very common in older adults. It has been estimated that about one in three people have some form of arthritis or joint pain. This condition is a major cause of lost work time and serious disability for most people.
Getting the best medical help and treatment for arthritis is important to minimize the effect of arthritis in your everyday life.
Types of Arthritis:
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, some of the most common types of arthritis include the following:
- Rheumatoid arthritis: It is the long-lasting disease that affects the joints in any part of the body except the lower back. The rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the hands, wrists, feet and knees. In case of rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks itself and causes the swelling of the joint lining. The inflammation then spreads to the surrounding tissues and can eventually damage the bones and cartilage. In severe cases, the rheumatoid arthritis can affect other areas of the body like eyes, skin, lung and nerves.
- Osteoarthritis: It is the most common type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage covering the end of the bones begins to gradually wear away. The lack of protection of the cartilage leads to the bones rubbing against each other and this results in friction between them, thereby causes swelling and pain. Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, but most commonly it affects the hands, facet joints (in the spine) weight bearing joints like knee, hip. Osteoarthritis often occurs due to a breakdown or degeneration of the cartilage, with age or overuse. Considering these reasons, it is sometimes called as a degenerative joint disease.
- Gout: This condition occurs when the body is unable to eliminate the natural substance called as uric acid. The excess uric acid in the body forms into a needle-like crystals in the joints which causes intense inflammation. Often gout affects the big toe, wrist joints and knees.
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Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immunity system of the body attacks the joints and this can occur at any age.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease caused due to wear and tear of joints and often it occurs in older adults.
Swelling is more profound in rheumatoid arthritis because the immunity system attacks the lining of the joint. Often people with RA shows experience additional symptoms like fatigue and low grade fever.
RA can strike and advance into a disabling condition over the course of weeks or months, while the OA develops and worsen over a long period of time.
Different types of arthritis have different symptoms and they vary in severity from individual to individual. Osteoarthritis does not show any symptoms outside the joints. Symptoms of other types of arthritis include the following:
- Signs of joint inflammation
- Poor sleep
- Weight loss
The causes of arthritis depend upon the different types of arthritis. Researchers are examining the possible role of genetics and lifestyle in the development of arthritis.
The causes include abnormal metabolism (in case of gout and pseudogout), injury (leads to degenerative arthritis), inheritance (in case of osteoarthritis) and the overactive immune system (in case of rheumatoid arthritis). Considering the possibility for treatment, the treatment programs are directed towards the exact cause of the arthritis.
There are several risk factors for arthritis which include, age, gender, obesity and occupation.
The doctor will diagnose the arthritis depending upon the type of arthritis. Often the diagnosis is made with the help of clinical examination like blood tests and radiology. Imaging techniques like the X-rays or MRI are used to show the condition of the joints. The doctor will diagnose an osteoarthritis with a complete medical history, including a description of the symptoms and a physical exam. Lab tests on urine, blood and joint fluid will be required if other types of arthritis are suspected.
Arthritis Treatment Options:
Treatment options for arthritis vary as per the types of arthritis. The goal of arthritis treatment is to provide relief from pain, control inflammation and boost the joint mobility and strength.
The treatment options are lifestyle changes include exercises and weight control, physical therapy, medications, orthopedic bracing, medications and surgery. The treatment plan may involve more than one of these options.
- Physical therapy: Physical exercises have shown noticeable improvement in terms of pain relief to the affected joints. Patients with arthritis can benefit from the physical and occupational therapy as it decreases the pain, improves function and delays the need for surgical intervention. A physical therapist prescribes the exercises to improve the muscle strength, flexibility and endurance.
- Medications: There are several types of medications that help to treat the arthritis by reducing the inflammation of the joints. This helps to decrease the pain and eventually slow down the damage of the joints. Medications differ as per the type of arthritis, the first line of treatment for osteoarthritis is acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen is given for inflammatory arthritis. Pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are given for treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
- Surgery: Surgery is recommended in severe cases of arthritis where the joint pain is not alleviated by less invasive therapies. Joint replacement surgery is required in case of eroding forms of arthritis. The replacement arthroplasty or the joint replacement surgery is a procedure of orthopedic surgery in which an arthritic joint surface is replaced with an orthopedic prosthesis. Joint replacement surgery is becoming more common with about 773,000 Americans had undergone a hip and knee replacement in the year 2009in India.