There are few more common joint issues than arthritis, which affects more that 10 million people in the UK alone.
So in this post we look into what the common causes, symptoms and treatments for arthritis, and also how to avoid it in the first place.
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint. It affects people of all ages, including children.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This is a condition that affects your joints. The surfaces within your joints become damaged so the joint doesn’t move as smoothly as it should . The condition is sometimes called arthrosis or osteoarthrosis. Older terms are degenerative joint disease or wear and tear.
When a joint develops osteoarthritis, some of the cartilage covering the ends of the bones gradually roughens and becomes thin, and the bone underneath thickens. All the tissues within the joint become more active than normal – as if your body is trying to repair the damage
This is a type of disease known as an autoimmune condition.
This means that your body’s immune system has made a mistake and picked a wrong target. To explain: your immune system is designed to defend your body against infection. It should not attack your body. Sometimes the immune system becomes too active, and mistakenly attacks your body, and this is called ‘autoimmune’ disease.
When you have RA, your immune system attacks the lining of your joints (the synovial lining). This causes inflammation, which leads to symptoms such as pain and stiffness.
RA is a symmetrical arthritis, meaning that it usually affects both sides of the body in a similar pattern, although this is not always the case. It tends to affect the small joints of the hands and feet first – often the knuckle joints in the fingers.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR ARTHRITIS?
In the case of inflammatory arthritis, the sooner drug therapies are begun the more effective they're likely to be. This can reduce the risk of long-term damage to joints and bones.
Drug therapy can be divided into two main groups:
- Drugs that treat the symptoms of arthritis (for example pain and stiffness)
- Treatments that suppress inflammatory disease and may improve the outcome.
- Often your doctor will recommend a course of physical therapies to help you overcome some of the symptoms of your arthritis. These may include:
- occupational therapy
Surgery may be necessary and advisable if the damage to your joint is severe enough to cause difficulties in your everyday life, and when other treatment isn’t reducing the pain. Joint replacements are now very sophisticated and successful.
HOW DO YOU PREVENT ARTHRITIS?
You can’t always prevent arthritis. Some causes—such as increasing age, family history, and gender (arthritis is more common in women) are out of your control. Yet there are a few health habits you can change to reduce your risk of developing painful joints as you get older:
- Eat Fish
- Control Your Weight
- Avoid Injuries
- Protect Your Joints
- Drink in Moderation
- See Your Doctor
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF ARTHRITIS?
While it’s more likely in those who are overweight, smoke, eat a poor diet, have injured a joint or have a family history of the disease, arthritis can affect anyone.
Keep an eye out for these seven main symptoms:
- Painful joints
- Restricted movement
- Swollen joints
- Warm and red joints
- Noisy joints
- Muscle loss
- Feeling tired
WHAT CAUSES ARTHRITIS?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the synovium that will invade and destroy a joint. It can eventually lead to the destruction of both bone and cartilage inside the joint.