Arthritis broadly encompasses over a hundred different conditions characterized by joint inflammation, causing pain and stiffness. Various types of arthritis exist, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and many others, each having distinct causes and symptoms.
Expanded Causes of Arthritis
Each type of arthritis has different causes. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease where your immune system mistakenly targets your body’s tissues, inciting inflammation in your joints. This autoimmune reaction can be influenced by both genetic factors, as people with certain genes are more susceptible to developing rheumatoid arthritis, and environmental factors such as smoking, exposure to asbestos or silica, and certain infections.
Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is a degenerative joint disease. It often occurs with age, as the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones within your joints gradually wears away. However, osteoarthritis can also result from joint injuries, obesity, or abnormal joint or limb development.
Psoriatic arthritis, another form of arthritis, is associated with the skin condition psoriasis, characterized by red patches with silvery scales. Most people develop psoriasis first and are later diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. It’s still not fully understood why some people with psoriasis develop psoriatic arthritis, but it’s thought to involve a combination of genetic, immune, and environmental factors.
Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs when uric acid crystals build up in the joints, causing inflammation and intense pain. This condition is typically the result of a diet high in purines, substances found in certain foods and drinks like steak, seafood, and beer.
Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis symptoms vary depending on the type but generally involve joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and a reduced range of motion. Symptoms unique to rheumatoid arthritis often include tender, warm, swollen joints. In severe cases, fatigue, fever, and weight loss may also occur.
Stages and Health Effects of Arthritis
Arthritis, especially rheumatoid arthritis, progresses in stages. Early stages may present as mild joint discomfort and slight swelling. As the disease advances, symptoms escalate, potentially leading to joint deformities and damage. Besides, arthritis can have systemic effects; for example, rheumatoid arthritis can impact more than just your joints. It can affect your skin, eyes, lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
Diagnosis of Arthritis
Arthritis is diagnosed through a detailed physical examination, reviewing your medical history, conducting laboratory tests like blood tests, and imaging studies, such as X-rays or MRI scans.
Arthritis Treatments and Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
While no cure exists for arthritis, a variety of treatments can effectively manage symptoms. These range from non-prescription methods like over-the-counter Tylenol Arthritis for pain relief to specific arthritis treatments involving disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or biological agents for rheumatoid arthritis. These medications aim to reduce inflammation and prevent joint damage. Topical applications, such as arthritis creams, can also provide relief for localized pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis treatment involves managing symptoms and preventing joint damage. It requires a combination of medications, regular physical exercise, and, in severe cases, surgery.
Arthritis in Specific Areas: Neck and Knees
Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including those in the neck and knees. Conditions like arthritis in the neck or knee arthritis can limit mobility and cause significant discomfort. However, with the right treatment and self-care regimen, these symptoms can be managed effectively.
Self-Care and Life with Arthritis
Living with arthritis necessitates certain self-care practices. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate sleep, and stress management can all significantly help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.