What exactly is arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease that results in joints’ inflammation, making it challenging to lead a healthy and fulfilling life. There are almost 100 types of arthritis, the most common ones being rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
Causes and symptoms of arthritis:
It is essential to recognize the signs of arthritis during the early onset of the disease so that timely treatment can be given. The faster you take treatment, the greater the possibility of living a pain-free life. One of the clearest indicators of arthritis is when you cannot move your joints freely, i.e., your movement is restricted. Even though arthritis is mostly seen in older people over 65 years of age, it doesn’t mean that younger people are immune to this disease. If you find swelling in your joint, it is better to consult a doctor immediately, irrespective of how old you are.
An excess of weight puts stress on the knees while walking or doing any other physical activity. Therefore, overweight or obese people are at a higher risk of arthritis. Also, medical research found arthritis more frequent in women than men. In women, the absence of hormone estrogen after menopause makes the cartilage weaker to protect it from inflammation. Biologically, women’s joints go through more movement than men and have lower joint stability. This results in a higher risk of joint injuries, thus increasing the risk of arthritis in females.
In most cases, the symptoms increase in intensity slowly. However, they could appear overnight too. With redness, stiffness, and swelling as the symptoms of arthritis, they are particularly painful in the morning hours. When it comes to RA, you may also see a loss in appetite and fatigue without reason. If you do not take treatment for RA, it can also lead to joint deformity.
Causes of arthritis
The cartilage that is a flexible connective tissue in our body plays a vital role in providing a protective cushion to our joints. Without that protection cushion between two bones, the bones cause friction against each other, causing immense pain and inflammation. So, naturally, joints become vulnerable to wear and tear when the cartilage tissue breaks down, causing damage as well.
In the case of RA, the immune system attacks a soft tissue named synovium, which creates a fluid for the cartilage enabling smooth functioning of joints. If not provided with timely treatment, it can cause total damage to the joint and cartilage.
Diagnosis and treatment
Indeed, arthritis cannot be cured, but that doesn’t mean treatment cannot help the condition. You can do in such a situation to receive proper treatment aiming at a better quality of life. Many a time, people who experience the above symptoms are clueless on how to go about it. Usually, it would be just wiser to visit a general physician and let him or her direct you to a specialist, if you indeed are suffering from arthritis. While, if your symptoms are severe and painful, it is better to get it confirmed by a rheumatologist. The earlier you start the treatment, the better are the chances of keeping the symptoms under control.
This disease can be diagnosed with imaging scans like X-ray, MRI, or CT to get a clear picture of joints and cartilage conditions. Then, the doctor would determine the kind of arthritis you have, through blood tests such as anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (rheumatoid factor), and ANA (antinuclear antibody).
The severe pain that comes along with this disease is why arthritis lowers the quality of life. So, if you manage and keep the pain in control, it can be effective in improving the quality of life in arthritis patients. Typically, treatment methods in arthritis provide pain relief to a large extent and strengthen the joints for better functionality.
You can choose any of the treatment options available or combine one with the other in consultation with your doctor. Mostly, what works for one person may not work for the other. You can look at any of these options here:
Many high- quality researches have shown that CBD oils can be able to help lessen and control the symptoms of arthritis, for example, relieving the associated inflammatory pain. CBD extract is available as an oil, cream, or gel that patients can easily apply to the skin of the areas affected by arthritis. For a more in-depth understanding of this method, you can read this article.
- Medication: Drugs are the most effective and used method of treating arthritis. While analgesics like hydrocodone or acetaminophen decrease only pain, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and salicylates decrease both pain and inflammation. However, salicylates should be taken carefully in combination with blood-thinning medications. One can also take advantage of over the counter drugs available for arthritis.
- Supporting devices: Icing the joints frequently with ice packs or using heating bags can also help in instant pain relief. Alternatively, doctors also suggest using walkers or walking sticks to keep pressure off joints.
- Surgery: One of the most effective treatments used by arthritis patients is knee replacement or hip replacement surgery. The total knee replacement surgery is also known as arthroplasty. In this surgery, the arthritic bone is replaced by a prosthetic one.
- Healthy lifestyle: It is also possible to control arthritis by leading a healthy and active lifestyle. Regular physical therapy can help manage the pain by strengthening the muscles around the joint. A weight loss regime to maintain your weight can reduce the pain. The diet of an arthritis patient should be healthy and contain antioxidants. Foodstuffs like walnuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables should be taken instead of processed foods, dairy products, and junks.
- Recent studies also point towards the advantages of a gluten-free diet for people with arthritis. In the long run, a healthy lifestyle can slow down the progression of osteoarthritis and keep the intense pain related to it.
- Physical activity: Exercises like hamstring stretches or any exercise which focuses on quadriceps, hamstring, and glutes can be beneficial for people suffering from osteoarthritis. One of the most comfortable physical activities for arthritis has to be swimming, as it doesn’t pressurize the knees or joints. However, it is necessary to take ample amounts of rest in short intervals as well.
While surgeries and medicines can be quite costly, leading a healthy lifestyle can be a better option in the long run. Arthritis cannot be cured totally, but treatment still can do a lot better when it comes to intense pain and further deterioration of joints.