What is Arthritis? Who does it affect? Is it curable? Indeed people suffer because of lack of knowledge, and if only they knew what causes some diseases, they would live cautious healthy lives. So, in this article we shall answer the questions brought forth above plus the many questions you may be asking yourself about Arthritis. So right now, decide to get knowledge of this infection by reading this article to get the facts you need to know about Arthritis.
Arthritis is a health condition that affects the joints, bones, and muscles and also that causes many problems to the general health condition. Over 50 million Americans are diagnosed with Arthritis or some other disease that is caused by it. Arthritis can be very painful, causing pain in the joints – ankles, elbow, feet and toes, hips, knees, shoulders, back, hands and fingers.
Although all types of Arthritis affect the joints, they vary in the way this happens.
How Arthritis Affects the Joints (some types)
Arthritis might be degenerative as in the case of Osteoarthritis. This is usually age-related and can come about due to the normal wear and tear of the Cartilage and other connective tissue in the joints. Injury of the joints can also cause this condition.
Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease, is classified as an inflammatory Arthritis. This occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakenly recognises the connective tissue of the joints as harmful foreign invaders into the body and starts to attack it and break it down. This causes pain, inflammation and swelling in the joints.
Certain infections like Hepatitis C, Salmonella and Chlamydia can also affect the joints and cause inflammation and swelling. This type of arthritis is termed as Infectious Arthritis.
Gout is termed as a Metabolic Arthritis due to faulty metabolism - the body produces too much Uric Acid. This excess Uric Acid forms crystals in the joints making them stiff, painful and making movement difficult.
Facts About Arthritis
So, let’s get the facts about this very uncomfortable disease:
- Arthritis affects people of all ages.
- There are over 100 types of Arthritis including Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Fibromyalgia and Gout.
- Arthritis has affected many children in the world. In the USA alone, one in every 250 children is affected by some type of Arthritis.
- Arthritis is more common among the women of every age group.
- In the USA, Arthritis is the leading cause of disability among adults (18-64 years old).
- Arthritis limits the physical activity, causing many other health problems.
The lack of mobility is a great risk factor for obesity, Diabetes and heart disease. Obesity is a condition that is responsible for many cardiac infections. When one is suffering from Arthritis affecting the knee joints, one is unable to walk around comfortably and for long due to the much pain and swelling experienced there. As a result, the person does not go for exercises, and obesity becomes almost no longer controllable to that patient. All of these health conditions (obesity, Diabetes and heart disease) worsen the symptoms of Arthritis.
Causes of Arthritis
There are several causes of Arthritis including physical wear and tear, autoimmunity, infections, faulty metabolism, etc. Arthritis is a progressive disease with no known cure.
Common Symptoms of Arthritis
Some of the common symptoms of Arthritis include:
- Painful joints
- Swelling and inflammation in the joints
- Stiffness in the joints
- Reduced mobility
- Difficulty climbing stairs
- Difficulty forming a grip
Arthritis can be controlled using painkillers and vitamins, but there is no cure for it. Patients diagnosed with Arthritis should change their lifestyle – they should eat and live healthy, stop smoking, exercise or go to physical therapy and follow the doctor’s instructions. In as much as there is no cure for Arthritis, there is treatment for it.
Treatment for Arthritis
Sometimes people feel symptoms that are so mild that they confuse them with those of ordinary pain that can be terminated by drugs. Early detection of the disease can be very helpful in finding a right course of treatment that not only slows the progression of the disease but also helps relieve the pain and allow the patient to live as near a normal life as possible. Patients diagnosed with Arthritis should be careful, rest more and exercise with therapists. As mentioned there is no cure for Arthritis but there are several treatments available that can make life a lot easier for the patient. These include:
- Painkiller drugs
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Massage therapy
- Weight loss programmes
- Regular exercise to help improve mobility of joints
- Topical application creams and ointments to help relieve pain
- Vitamin and mineral supplements
- Fish oil supplements
- And when required, joint replacement surgery
All these treatments help to alleviate the pain and other symptoms of Arthritis. Because of the existence of various types of Arthritis, the doctor is at the best position to decide which course of treatment is best suited for the patient(s). Most often, a combination of treatments is used rather than just one in isolation.
Living with Arthritis
Maybe someday there will be a cure for Arthritis, but until then, the patients have to learn to live with this disease. They need a full emotional support from their families and friends.
If the Arthritis is diagnosed early, there are better chances for successful control over the disease.
A Rheumatologist is a doctor who has specialised in Arthritis and other similar diseases. If the person experiences some symptoms, they should visit the Rheumatologist for future examination and therapy.
Other Facts About Arthritis
- Some types of Arthritis like Lupus are classified as autoimmune and inflammatory and they may cause damage to the whole body, not just the joints.
- There are many alternative treatments for Arthritis. For example, the bee sting venom can ease the symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
- The animals can develop some form of Arthritis too. The symptoms are similar to the humans'. The most common type of Arthritis among animals is Osteoarthritis, but they can develop Rheumatoid Arthritis too.
- African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely to develop some type of Arthritis than the whites.
- Arthritis costs the US economy more than $86 billion annually.
- Arthritis is one of the oldest diseases known to humans.
Arthritis also has a great economic impact because it often affects adult employees. The employees diagnosed with arthritis often are limited in the movements and they can’t do their job properly. Also, they ask for leave more often than the others.
People diagnosed with Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis miss over 170 workdays annually. They often have some other health condition combined with Arthritis:
- 57% have heart and cardiovascular diseases,
- 52% have diabetes,
- 44% have high blood pressure, and
- 36% are overweight.
Arthritis: How Many Diseases?
Arthritis is the common term used to describe over a hundred types of ailments that affect the joints.
There are many illnesses today which have no cure. However, there is medication to control their infection in the human body. A lot of these diseases can best be avoided, as goes the proverb 'prevention is better than cure'. Avoiding them will mainly entail having and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We ought to know what it is that is harmful to our bodies and distinguish it from that which is good for our health in order to make informed decisions in relatin to our diet.