Arthritis means joint inflammation, but the term is used to describe around 200 conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint, and other connective tissue. It is a rheumatic condition.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two different bones meet. A joint functions to move the body parts connected by its bones. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints.
How many types of arthritis exist?
There are many types of arthritis (over 100 identified). The types of arthritis range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation resulting from a misdirected immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis). While osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are common types of arthritis, there are many other common and uncommon types of arthritis. Other types of inflammatory arthritis include psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and reactive arthritis. Types of infectious arthritis include septic arthritis and Lyme arthritis. Self-limited forms of arthritis can occur in association with virus infections
What are arthritis symptoms and signs?
Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints.
- Joint inflammation from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, pain, and warmth. Stiffness of the joint can lead to poor function.
- Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present with or without pain. When large joints are involved, such as the knee, there can be loss of cartilage with limitation of motion from the joint damage.
- When arthritis affects the small joints in fingers, there can be bone growth and loss of hand grip and grip strength of the hand associated with stiffness.
- Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can lead to difficulty walking from poor joint function and arthritis pain.
- In some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling (swollen lymph nodes), weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell, and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.
Whom does arthritis affect?
Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children, and adults.
What are risk factors for arthritis?
The major risk factors for most forms of arthritis are genes that are inherited from ancestors. Trauma-related arthritis is related to the risk of injury from specific activities.
What causes arthritis?
The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to osteoarthritis), metabolic abnormalities (such as gout with elevated uric acid blood levels), hereditary factors, the direct and indirect effect of infections (bacterial and viral).Arthritis is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases.
How do health care professionals diagnose arthritis? Why is a diagnosis important?
The first step in the diagnosis of arthritis is a meeting between the doctor and the patient. The doctor will review the history of symptoms, examine the joints for inflammation and deformity, as well as ask questions about or examine other parts of the body for inflammation or signs of diseases that can affect other body areas. A doctor will make a diagnosis based on the pattern of symptoms, the distribution of the inflamed joints, and any blood and X-ray findings.
Earlier and accurate diagnosis can help to prevent irreversible damage and disability. Properly guided programs of exercise and rest, medications, physical therapy, and surgery options can idealize long-term outcomes for those with arthritis. Physical therapists can provide the care needed for properly guided exercise regimens.
Is there an arthritis diet?
Gout is a particular type of metabolic arthritis that is clearly diet-related. Foods that are high in purines, especially red meats and shellfish, can worsen the condition. Moreover, certain foods elevate the levels of uric acid, including alcohol (especially beer) and those foods containing high amounts of fructose (such as the corn syrup found in soft drinks). For people with celiac disease, gluten-containing foods (wheat, barley, rye) can worsen joint pains.
What are medications and treatment options for arthritis?
The treatment of arthritis is very dependent on the precise type of arthritis present. An accurate diagnosis increases the chances for successful treatment. Treatments available include physical therapy, home remedies, splinting, cold-pack application, paraffin wax dips, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medications, immune-altering medications, biologic medications, and surgical operations (including joint replacement surgery). Pain from osteoarthritis of the knee can be relieved by hyaluronic acid injections. Rheumatoid arthritis can require medications that suppress the immune system (disease modifying medications). Low back arthritis that is irritating nerves of the spine can require surgical repair.
What are the outlook for arthritis, and what are arthritis complications?
The outlook for patients with arthritis depends on its severity, complications, and whether or not there are non-joint manifestations of the disease. For example, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the lungs, kidneys, eyes, etc. Chronic joint inflammation can lead to permanent damage to the joint and loss of joint function, making movement difficult or impossible.
Is it possible to prevent arthritis?
Since most forms of arthritis are inherited to some degree, there is no real way to prevent them. Arthritis that follows joint injury could be prevented by adhering to safety regulations and trying to avoid becoming injured. Arthritis related to infection (for examples, septic arthritis, reactive arthritis, Whipple’s disease) could be prevented by not becoming infected with the causative organism. The extent to which this is possible varies depending upon the individual condition.