Arthritis is a very uncomfortable health condition that includes a variety of inflammatory and non-inflammatory diseases such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The cause of arthritis can sometimes be infection, but there are also genetic predispositions. For some, arthritis comes with age. There is no cure, and patients with arthritis can spend a lifetime taking pain killers or going to physical therapy. While arthritis effects both men and women, it has been noticed that women are at a higher risk. The frequency of the disease gets higher with age.
Often characterized by symptoms such as inflammation, pain and stiffness, the severity of arthritis can be mild, moderate or severe. These symptoms can develop suddenly or over a period of time. Permanent joint changes are a common result of this disease. The symptoms may remain constant or worsen with time, in certain chronic cases it can result in the inability to manage daily activities - even simple things like walking can become difficult. Arthritis is more commonly seen in adults over the age of 65 but it can also develop in children and young adults.
Most often, arthritis is left undiagnosed as the symptoms are assumed to be a natural part of aging. In the case of juvenile arthritis, symptoms are often brushed aside as an effect of excessive activity or injury. However, it is a must that symptoms like joint pain or stiffness be discussed with your doctor as it could be a warning sign. Though detecting arthritis early does not help cure the illness, it does help manage the pain and avoid permanent joint damage. The two most common forms of arthritis are osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. It has been found that, in certain cases, arthritis can be hereditary.
If one of the parents has arthritis, they sure ask themselves if they can pass the disease to their children. The answer is that there are certain risk factors and the genetic factor is also included in that group. The doctors and researchers have found a group of specific genes that are connected to arthritis, such as HLA-B27, HLA-DR4, STAT4, TRAF1 or PTPN22. The HLA genes are controlling the immune response of the body. If there is any possibility of genetic arthritis, ordinary diseases like the flu or bacterial infection can make the situation much worse. There are blood tests that can diagnose arthritis of any type. If the parents suspect that they may pass the disease to their children, they should be sure to have a full workup done by their doctor. Many doctors don’t recommend to run the tests, however, if there are no visible signs and symptoms of arthritis. After all, a parent's test may come back positive, meaning that they are at risk for developing arthritis themselves, or for passing it on to their children, and their children may not inherit the disease. The genes that are linked to the inheritance of many types of arthritis do not have a 100% propensity to pass the disease on to the younger generation.
Rheumatoid arthritis has a greater risk of passing to the children through the parent's genes. The general causes are not yet fully determined. Researchers and doctors are still investigating the possible factors that may play a role in a condition like rheumatoid arthritis. Here are some of the possible triggers of the disease:
- Bacterial infections
- Hormone imbalance and disorders
- Emotional trauma
- Exposure to smoke, pesticides, and air pollution
The most common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are:
- Pain in the joints
- Morning stiffness that lasts more than 30 minutes
- Eye dryness and light sensitivity
- Rheumatoid nodules on the skin near the joint area
- Dry mouth
If you have any of these symptoms you should visit your doctor immediately. If one of your parents or other close relatives has rheumatoid arthritis, there is a great chance you will have the same health issues. Your children also are at a greater risk. The doctor will ask about your medical history and after that will examine each joint, because rheumatoid arthritis may affect all the joints in your body. The next step is blood tests with erythrocyte sedimentation and CRP. The results combined with the symptoms and medical history can help in the diagnosis of the disease. Do ensure that you test your children only if they are showing symptoms of arthritis. It is important to be cautious, but don’t thrust your fears on your children.
There are many possible treatments that can put the disease in remission and prevent the joint damage. The treatment is based on painkillers, vitamin intake and sometimes some alternative medicine. Patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis have to take care of themselves and also to follow if their children show any similar symptoms. The recommendation about self and family care are that revolve around diet involve the consumption of:
- Healthy food rich with antioxidants, including fish, vegetables, fruits and olive oil
Food with antioxidants have been known to reduce inflammation.
- Healthy balance of activity and resting
- Easy physical activity
- Natural and alternative therapies
Acupuncture, massage and yoga have been seen to provide relief.
- Taking supplements (omega-3 capsules)
- Positive attitude
- Applying heating pads and ice packs on sore points can be soothing.
The biggest adjustment for a patient suffering from arthritis is the loss of movement due to unbearable aches and pain. It can be severely debilitating and distressing. Though a lasting cure for arthritis has still not been discovered, advances in both traditional medical treatment and alternative therapies have made living with it easier. Most treatments for arthritis aim to control pain, alleviate joint damage and improve quality of life.
Making diet and lifestyle changes have known to help effectively manage arthritis. It is often advised that if you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, a conscious effort should be made to stay active. Not, however, by overexerting yourself but with regular simple physical activity. It is important that your joints are kept flexible with regular exercise. Swimming is a good form of exercise for those suffering from arthritis as it doesn’t put pressure on your joints. Movement is especially hard with arthritis but severely needed.
- Many types of arthritis have the potential of being passed on through genetics.
- No lasting cure has been found for arthritis.
- Treatment for arthritis uses a holistic approach, focusing not only on the physical pain, but also with the patient's ability to cope with the loss of mobility.