Healthy Living

Arthritis: What Occurs Besides Joint Pain?

Arthritis: What Occurs Besides Joint Pain?

Key Takeaways

  • Arthritis is an illness that attacks the joints and causes inflammation.
  • Over 50 million Americans are diagnosed with arthritis or some other disease that is caused by arthritis.
  • Inflammation causes fatigue and it varies with the physical fitness of a person.

For some people, the only symptom associated with arthritis is painful and swollen joints. But is that all. However, arthritis is a condition that consists of 100 different types, and there are definitely more than just one or two symptoms. So, what are these other symptoms? 

What is arthritis?

arthritis facts

Arthritis is a serious illness for which unfortunately, there is no known cure at the moment. We hope that one day its cure will be found. Arthritis can be defined as an illness that attacks the joints and causes inflammation. It can affect one or multiple joints. Over 50 million Americans are diagnosed with arthritis or some other disease that is caused by it. Arthritis causes pain in the joints of the ankles, elbow, feet and toes, hips, knees, shoulders, back, hands and fingers. But despite lacking a cure, there are several treatment methods that make life smoother for arthritis patients. There are a lot of different treatments for arthritis due to there being more than 100 different types of arthritis.

The most common types of arthritis are:

  1. Osteoarthritis (OA)
  2. Fibromyalgia
  3. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  4. Gout arthritis
  5. Psoriatic arthritis

Pain and inflammation

Even though we are taught that inflammation usually comes when a part of the body is healing itself, and even though it normally occurs as a defense mechanism against bacteria and viruses, people suffering from arthritis experience a type of inflammation that happens all by itself without any obvious reason or explanation.

With autoimmune arthritis, the immune system is attacking the joints, and instead of helping, that inflammation causes damage and pain to the tendons, ligaments, and joints. In simple words, autoimmunity is an abnormal condition in which the immune system of a person works against his or her own body. How can your immune system fight against the body it is supposed to defend against infections? That is how autoimmune arthritis can work against a person.

Symptoms of arthritis

People that have arthritis usually have more than one symptom. The most common ones are pain and swelling in the joints.

Other symptoms of arthritis include:

   1. Depression

Autoimmune disease like RA can affect the emotional state of a person due to the unbearable pain it causes. This makes the patient inactive and dull and prompting the patient to feel anger, anxiety, denial etc during the period of Arthritis.

   2. Tiredness

Fatigue (both physical and mental tiredness) follows Arthritis in most cases. Inflammation causes fatigue and it varies with physical fitness of a person.

  3. Flu-like symptoms

Symptoms like fever, headache, weight loss and stiffness of muscles are common among Arthritis patients.

   4. Irritability

Depending on the type of Arthritis, there can be a lot of different signs and symptoms.

Pain and arthritis 

In mechanical arthritis, the cartilage is affected – the part that covers the ends of the bones. When a person has this type of arthritis, the cartilage is thin and rough, and the bone usually overgrows and alters the shape of the joint. This is also known as osteoarthritis, and it usually affects older people. It can also result from a damage that happened to the joint like a fracture or previous inflammation.

Another symptom that occurs when a person has arthritis is the soft tissue skeletal pain, and this type of pain is felt in different types of tissues that are not just in the bones and the joints. It usually comes from the muscles and the soft tissue that support the joints. It can be localized in one particular part of the body, or it can be widespread.

Back pain is one of the symptoms of arthritis. The pain can come from different places. It includes pain from the:

  • Discs
  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Bones
  • Ligaments

What causes the pain?

One of the most common reasons for these types of pains is the spondylosis (osteoarthritis relating to spine) or osteoarthritis. These types of arthritis cause sudden pain in the back if one of the bones in the spine crunches down. Unfortunately, in most cases it is not possible to find out where the pain is coming from and the doctors usually describe this as non-specific pain or just a simple back pain.

Connective tissues are the ones that bind or separate other organs or body tissues and because of arthritis, patients may have connective tissue diseases. The connective tissues include:

  • Cartilage
  • Ligament
  • Tendons

Usually, the joints are the ones that are involved in connective tissue disorder (CTD), but there can also be inflammation in other parts of the body and other tissues like:

  • Muscles
  • Lungs
  • Skin
  • Kidneys

Types of arthritis 

In osteoarthritis (OA), the cartilage which protects the joints breaks and induces pain when the joints move. Severe pain occurs when the joints rub against each other. Apart from cartilage, pain can also arise from the ligaments and synovium.

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joints (synovium) and later results in inflammation.

In psoriatic arthritis, which is also an autoimmune disorder, not only the joints but also the connective tissues and skin are affected. PSA on skin causes psoriasis. High blood pressure, obesity and diabetes are also seen evidently among psoriatic patients.

In fibromyalgia, a situation called allodynia and yperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain than normal person) occurs. Besides that, pain, fatigue and sleeplessness are also symptoms of fibromyalgia.

Gout also causes inflammation but not as intensive as rheumatoid or psorotic arthritis. Excessive amount of uric acid condenses into crystals and lies on the joints causing pain.

Even though arthritis is usually connected to joint pains, you may feel a range of other symptoms besides this. If you think that you have any of the symptoms or signs of arthritis mentioned so far, you need to contact your doctor immediately and consult with a specialist. Even though there is no known cure, there are a lot of different therapies and medications that will help ease the pain and improve the lifestyle by being more careful in diet, resting more and exercising with the therapist's instructions. Hot and cold therapy, massage and meditation are some of the homely remedies for arthritis.

Some facts on arthritis

Some additional facts about arthritis include: 

  • Arthritis is one of the oldest diseases known to humans.
  • Arthritis can affect people of all ages.
  • Arthritis is not a single disease; it’s a group of many diseases. There are over 100 types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, gout and and many other types.
  • The rheumatologist is a doctor who has specialized in arthritis and other similar diseases. If the person experiences some symptoms, they should visit the rheumatologist for future examination and therapy.
  • Early diagnosis is the best option for successful control over the disease as no definitive cure is available to date.