Arthritis FAQs Symptoms and Treatment.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a common name for different pathologies of joints distinguished by inflammation, restricted mobility, and distortion. It can be the main disease (e.g., spondylitis) or accompany another disease (e.g., rheumatism). It can affect a single or several joints and around 15% of individuals with the disease ultimately become disabled.
The reasons for arthritis onset can vary from infections to metabolic disorders like in gout, injuries, and so on.
The disorder is pretty common around the world. Only in the U.S. around 42 million individuals are impacted and the number grows every year.
Arthritis is the main cause of disability in the country.
The most predisposed to the onset of the disease are women aged 35-50 years. They predominantly suffer from the deformity of minor joints (e.g. in palms).
What causes arthritis?
Arthritis refers to polythetic diseases, that is, the development of the same manifestations of the disease can be caused by a variety of reasons. The reasons leading to the development of this pathology can be:
– Joint injuries;
– Cytopenic purpura;
– Rheumatic disease;
– Systemic lupus erythematosus;
– Hemachromatosis, etc.
The disease can develop on the basis of the natural wear of the joints tissue. The causative agents can also be the poor working conditions, malnutrition, low physical activity, genetic predisposition and obesity.
The occurrence of professional arthritis is provoked by the constant high-intensity physical loads on the same joints, muscles, and the musculoskeletal system in general.
In infectious arthritis, the pathogen enters the body and the immune response occurs. But certain failures in the immune system work lead to the annihilation of not only alien cells but also own body cells and cartilage tissue in particular.
Injuries and congenital defects of the joints can also induce the mechanism that causes inflammation of the articular tissue. Pathological load on the joints due to extra body weight, also over time provokes the development of the disease. Frequently, the disease occurs in women during hormonal disorders caused by menopause or endocrine diseases.
Another factor that plays an important role in the development of the inflammatory diseases of the joints is a hereditary factor; in this case, the disease can develop at a fairly young age.
What are arthritis symptoms?
At an early stage of the disease, the aches occur only in physical loads and are not very pronounced. Over time, with the progression of the disease, there is an increase in pain, stiffness, local reddening and swelling in the affected joint. Some types of illness can be accompanied by the development of clinical and laboratory indicators, in this case, fever, fatigue, increased ESR and white blood cell count occur.
The most typical symptoms are:
– Pain in the affected joints;
– Difficulty moving;
– Swelling and redness of the area around the joint;
– Joint deformity;
– Crunch and discomfort when moving in a joint;
– Low resistance to physical activity.
The disease can develop complications that can vary and are majorly defined by the factors that caused arthritis. The frequent complication of all types of arthritic is a deformation of the affected joints. It is a distortion of the joint form due to which an affected individual cannot make usual movements. For instance, in case of arthritis of the wrist joints, the patient cannot normally keep a spoon in his hand, manipulate objects, loses the ability to self-service, which is the cause of disability. In arthritis of the leg joints, the individual cannot bend the affected limb and rely on it; as a result, the ability to move independently is lost.
How is arthritis treated?
The therapy of arthritis consists of two three main components. First of all, the cause of the disease must be established. Secondly, the correct medications are chosen. Thirdly, physiotherapy and special procedures are appointed.
The medications used for arthritis include:
– Anti-inflammatory formulations (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as corticosteroid and glucocorticoid medications);
– Artificial joint fluid medications;
In case of large joints are affected, their replacement is made with artificial prostheses. For small joints deformities, surgical correction is possible.
Can arthritis be cured?
Unfortunately, no - it is a chronic and gradually progressing disease and the treatment only slows down its development rate.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
Arthritis diagnosis is at the same time simple and difficult. It is easy to make a preliminary diagnosis based on the patient’s complaints about the typical ache in the joints, impaired mobility, swelling and inflammation around the joint. However, for the effective treatment, a doctor must identify the cause of the disease development. For this, a number of diagnostic methods are used including:
– Ultrasound examination;
– CT scan;
– Serological examination of blood;
– Biochemical blood test;
– Sampling of tissue from affected areas.
Can arthritis be prevented?
The older any individual gets, the higher is the risk of arthritis development. Thus, prophylaxis of arthritis is recommended for everyone from a young age.
The prophylaxis measures include:
– Maintain a healthy weight as excessive weight elevates the wear of the joints;
– Lift weights correctly, without bending the spine, avoiding injuries and unnecessary loads on the joints and muscles;
– Regularly do physical exercises as a good muscle tone lowers the load on the joints. The best exercise that doesn’t affect the joints and strengthens the muscles is swimming.
– Eat healthy including in the ration polyunsaturated fatty acids (fatty fish) and calcium (dairy products), also exclude animal fats, and eat more vegetables and fruits. Omega-3-unsaturated fatty acids ease the symptoms of arthritis. A study of 2112 individuals with x-ray confirmed osteoarthritis of the knee showed that a higher intake of magnesium corresponds to a significant reduction in the risk of osteoarthritis. It is also advised to minimize the consumption of sugar and other fast carbs, alcohol.
– Maintain good posture especially when spending long hours at your workplace. Properly organize the workplace so that it was comfortable to sit and you don’t have to lean forward, throw your head back, strain your back and neck.
– Take breaks in work associated with prolonged sitting/standing; in the breaks to do easy exercises.
Can pregnant women use arthritis medications?
The majority of arthritis formulations are prohibited for pregnant women and only a medical specialist can decide whether the expected benefits can outweigh the risks.
Can kids be giver arthritis medications?
Yes, kids can be given arthritis formulations because they can suffer from juvenile arthritis. However, the treatment regimens differ from the ones that are appointed for adults so if your kid is diagnosed with arthritis, you must find a pediatric specialist to prescribe the optimal therapy.
What are contraindications for arthritis medications use?
Since there are different groups of the medications, the contraindications for their use also differ:
1. NSAIDs are contraindicated in:
– Allergic reactions previously developed in the use of aspirin or any NSAIDs;
– Events of liver dysfunction related to the use of NSAIDs;
– Simultaneous use with other liver-affecting medicines;
– Alcohol or drug addiction;
– Digestive tract ulcer, especially with a history of bleeding in history, or bleeding associated with other diseases, colitis;
– Severe heart failure;
– Severe kidney or hepatic failure;
– Pregnancy and breastfeeding.
2. Steroidal formulations for arthritis are contraindicated in:
– Allergy to the medication;
– Severe infections (except tuberculous meningitis and septic shock);
– Immunization with a live vaccine.
The use under a doctor’s supervision is possible in:
– Insufficiency of thyroid hormones;
– Digestive tract ulcer;
– Ulcerative colitis;
– High blood pressure;
– Liver cirrhosis;
– Cardiovascular failure;
– Predisposition to the formation of blood clots;
– Cataracts and glaucoma;
– Mental disorders.
What adverse effects can arthritis medications cause?
NSAIDs can cause:
– Nausea, diarrhea, disorders of digestive tract including ulceration and bleeding;
– Acute renal failure;
– Increased level of liver enzymes;
Steroidal formulations for arthritis can cause:
– Limbs and face swelling;
– Elevated arterial tension;
– Elevation of blood sugar level;
– Bone necrosis;
– Flare-up or the onset of the gastric ulcer;
– Weight gain;
– Development of various infections;
– Violation of the menstrual cycle;
– Neurological disorders;
– Increased sweating;
– Instability of mood, depression.
The likelihood and severity of possible adverse reactions is contingent on the doses and duration of the treatment course.