Basics you need to know about Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. Arthritis belongs to a group of medical disorder which involve joint and may damage the involved joint/joints. There are several different forms or types of arthritis and most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative disease of joints. Other examples of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis (arthritis associated with psoriasis), gouty arthritis (arthritis associated with gout), septic arthritis (due to infection in joints), arthritis secondary to other diseases and many more.

Symptoms of arthritis:

The common symptoms of arthritis involve joints. The common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness of joints, swelling and redness of joints, restricted movements of joints due to pain or stiffness which may cause difficulty in walking or patient may not be able to walk in extreme cases. Arthritis may also cause generalized symptoms such as fever, weakness, insomnia, fatigue, rash, weight loss etc.

Causes of arthritis:

The cause of arthritis depends on the type of arthritis. For example, osteoarthritis is due to wear and tear damage of joint, which is made up of cartilage, joint capsule and synovium. The wear and tear may take many years to develop, but may be hastened by joint injury or infection.

The factors which increase the risk of development of arthritis include age (osteoarthritis is a disease of old age), family history, obesity (as certain joints need to carry more weight which increase wear and tear damage), sex (females are more prone to rheumatoid arthritis, whereas men are prone to gouty arthritis), previous joint injury etc.

Treatment of arthritis:

The main aim of treatment of arthritis is relieving symptoms such as joint pain and joint stiffness and improvement of joint function. Treatment of arthritis involves use of medications (pharmacotherapy), physiotherapy or surgery. The treatment modality of arthritis depends on the type of arthritis.

Pharmacotherapy: It involves use of medications, which may be different for different type of arthritis. Commonly used medications in treatment of arthritis include analgesics (e.g. tramadol, narcotic analgesics such as oxycodone), counterirritants, non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (such as diclofenac, ibuprofen), corticosteroids, disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) etc.

Physiotherapy: This can be of great help to the patients of arthritis. Exercise to improve muscle strength of muscles surrounding the affected joint and improvement of range of movement of involved joints can be of great value in treatment of arthritis.

Surgery: Surgery may be required in some specific cases only, especially if conservative methods such as medication and physiotherapy fail to provide any relief to the patient. Surgical treatment of arthritis may be done by synovectomy (removal of synovium, which may which may swell in arthritis and removal of it may slow down degeneration process), joint replacement, joint fusion etc.

Prevention of arthritis:

Although there are no proved methods of preventing arthritis, change of modifiable risk factors of arthritis can reduce the risk or delay development of arthritis, e.g. maintaining body weight within normal range and regular physical exercise can reduce risk of arthritis.

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