According to a study, 62.35 million people in India were suffering from Osteoarthritis in 2019.
The ability to move efficiently is one of the most remarkable features of the human body. It enables survival, exploration, and fitness. Arthritis is a highly disrupting disease because it takes away your ability to move pain-free.
Various factors can contribute to its development. These may include genetic history, age, weight, and gender. The condition is accompanied by joint pain, which may range from mild to severe pain. Arthritis may even cause permanent joint deformity.
What is Arthritis? What are its causes and symptoms? How many types of Arthritis are there? And what can you do to prevent or slow down its development? Read ahead to find out!
What is Arthritis?
By definition, the Arthritis meaning says, “When certain joints in the body swell up and cause pain, the condition is known as Arthritis.” The swelling in joints causes stiffness and pain. These symptoms are known to progressively worsen with age.
Out of all the various kinds of Arthritis, two types are most commonly found- Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis. The major difference between them is their primary attack. Osteoarthritis attacks the cartilage and causes it to break down. On the other hand, Rheumatoid Arthritis starts by impacting the lining of the joints.
In addition to these, there are also several other kinds of Arthritis. Let’s talk more about them and their causes in the following section!
Types and Causes
What most people don’t know is that Arthritis is a broad-spectrum term.
The term is used to define around 100 joint conditions. Below, you will find some of the commonly known conditions:
This is the most common of all the types. Osteoarthritis results from extensive periods of stress on the cartilage, which causes it to break down.
Another very commonly found type, Rheumatoid Arthritis, is an auto-immune disease. In this condition, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints.
In Gout, hard uric acid crystals form in the joints. This results from excessive amounts of uric acid in the blood.
It is seen to affect children under 16 years of age. It is also an auto-immune condition, and it attacks the tissue surrounding the joints.
Usually affects the lower back. It is also known as the Arthritis of the Spine.
It is a joint inflammation that is found to develop in psoriasis patients.
Since there are so many different types of Arthritis, there are also various causes of this condition. However, some of the most common causes are:
Working a job that causes your joints to remain under extensive periods of stress may increase your probability of developing Arthritis.
Similarly, playing a sport that causes repeated stress on your joints may also lead to the development of Arthritis.
A family history of Arthritis can also increase an individual's chances of suffering from the condition at some point in life.
Having other underlying auto-immune conditions like psoriasis may also lead to the onset of the disease.
What are the major Arthritis Symptoms?
Despite the various types, some common symptoms mark the onset of Arthritis.
These symptoms may manifest differently in different individuals. They may range from mild to severe:
Swelling around the joints
The inflammation may feel warm when touched
Tenderness of the joints
Experiencing stiffness during movements
Redness in the inflamed area
See a healthcare provider as soon as you start noticing any of these is advised. The doctor will try to detect Arthritis using the following methods:
Since the biggest impact of the condition is on movement, assessing the range of motion for the affected joints is the best way to detect Arthritis.
Checking for tenderness and swelling
The doctor may also check the affected joints for visible signs of swelling and tenderness.
Running other diagnostic tests like X-ray or MRI
There are no blood tests to detect the condition. Healthcare providers use imaging exams to check for cartilage breakdowns, injuries, internal inflammation, or other joint ailments.
Treatment and Prevention
Arthritis can not be cured, but it can be managed.
Healthcare professionals prescribe the following Arthritis treatment methods to the patients:
Physiotherapy helps patients improve their range of motion. Continuous physical therapy may also assist in the improvement of strength. Therapists also help patients adapt to alternative ways to approach daily activities so that they experience less pain.
Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed to ease the symptoms of the conditions. For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment and Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment, biologics are prescribed, which address the immune system's inflammatory response.
Cortisone injections are suggested to temporarily treat the pain and inflammation of the joints.
Since there is no cure for the disease, it is important to learn the factors that can put you at risk of developing Arthritis. Some of the common risk factors are:
Genetic factors notably contribute to the development of Arthritis. People with a family history are advised to take special care of their joints.
Arthritis is more commonly seen among women.
With age, the joints become more susceptible to inflammation and other conditions.
Obesity can put your joints through extra stress, increasing your chances of developing the condition.
When it comes to any disease that doesn’t have a substantial cure, prevention is the only true treatment. The best way to avoid joint diseases is to work on posture and lifestyle and maintain a healthy amount of daily activity. Also, it is advised to stay aware of the signs your body gives you. While early diagnosis may not be of much help in the case of Arthritis, it allows you to get started with disease management faster.
You must also stay aware of a dominant family history of the condition or other external factors that may put you at risk. Awareness enables prevention.
The Author : Dr. Sunil Khattri
Dr. Sunil Khattri MBBS, MS(General Surgery), LLB, is a Medical doctor and is a practicing Advocate in the Supreme Court of India and National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi.