Arthritis is a chronic disease of the joint, causing joint inflammation and sharp pain at the joint. Wearing out of joint cartilages due to factors like aging, obesity, hormonal imbalance, heredity, past history of bone infection or injury, is the leading cause of arthritis.
Once the cartilages wear out getting weakened by age and losing power to repair them selves after daily wear and tear or crumble under the load of excessive body weight, the two bone heads at a joint are exposed to friction. Friction between the bones causes them to get eroded in to osteophytes or pointed spur like outgrowths, and also may damage surrounding tissues.
The result is inflammation of joint or arthritis. Shoulder, neck, back, wrist, ankle and the major weight bearing joints such as knee and hip are prone to the attack of arthritis. Among the numerous kinds of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the commonest. Osteoarthritis is seen in aged people, and is caused due to wearing out of cartilages.
Rheumatoid arthritis attacks young people. It is a disorder in which the immune system mistakenly invades healthy tissues and organs. Gout is another form of arthritis that holds the third position in terms of attacking humans. It is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals within a joint.
- Pain at the joints
- Swollen joints
- Stiffness of muscles around the joint
- Redness of skin surrounding the affected joint
- Crepitus or a grating sound while moving affected joint
- Joint deformity
- Bumps or nodules
- Limited range of motion
Arthritis cannot be cured completely, but it is possible to stop the progression of the disease or check or suppress the symptoms in many ways. Here we will learn about the ways to treat arthritis.
Proper diagnosis is the first step towards controlling the disorder. A thorough physical examination, medical history, laboratory tests, medical imaging techniques like X-rays, arthrography, thermal imaging cameras are the major diagnostic tools to detect arthritis. The laboratory tests associated with arthritis diagnosis include rheumatoid factor tests, C-reactive protein tests, erythrocyte sedimentation rate tests, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody test, antinuclear antibodies test, complete blood count test, uric acid test, joint fluid analysis etc.
Once the diagnosis is done, the next step of treatment involves the usage of medicines to keep the disorder under check. Analgesics or pain killers like acetaminophen, codeine, hydrocodone are often used for pain relief. Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs are also often used. They not only lessen pain, but also swelling, redness and warmth. The common forms of NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, aspirin, ketoprofen, celecoxib, etodolac, salsalate etc. Disease modifying drug or DMARD also prevents further worsening of arthritic conditions. The commonly used DMARDs are methotrexate azathioprine, prednisone etc. corticosteroid injections even heal to some extent the inflammatory conditions.
If the joint pain becomes too torturing, then one can even go for joint replacement surgery.
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