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Arthritis

Is a joint disease and means “inflammation of the joints”.

WHAT IS ARTHRITIS?

Is a joint disease and means “inflammation of the joints”. This disease is more common among adults aged 65 years and older, but people of all ages can be affected. Arthritis is said to be a disease of the joints. It is due to inflammation of the joint which causes pain on touch and movement, swelling and redness. They are different types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, etc. [1]

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS? [2]

The common symptoms that you experience are:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Fatigue

 

These symptoms may come and go and pain can be mild, moderate or severe. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain and inability to do daily tasks.

TREATMENTS OPTIONS

The focus of treatment is to control pain, minimize joint damage and improve or maintain quality of life.
Treatment might involve a combination of medication and physical therapy.
Medication used to treat arthritis, depends on the type of arthritis.
Commonly used medication, include:

  • Analgesics: these reduce pain, but have no effect on inflammation.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory: these reduce both pain and inflammation.
  • Specifically formulated creams and ointments.
  • Biologics: genetically-engineered proteins, designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling
    inflammation.
  • Corticosteroids: these reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system.

You can manage arthritis by following your doctor’s instructions on taking your medication.
Physical activity also has a positive effect on arthritis and can improve pain, function and mental health.

RISK FACTORS

  • Being Overweight: this puts strain on the joints, especially weight bearing joints such as the knee and hip joints.
  • Previous joint injuries: this can be from injections or fractures to which weaken your joints and make you susceptible to arthritis.
  • Sex: Women have been seen to be more susceptible to most types of arthritis, however, gout is seen more in males.
  • Age: the older you get the higher the risk as your cartilage of your bones decreases with age.
  • Family history: genes that run in the family can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that cause arthritis.
  • Significant smoking history: one or more packets per day for more than three years. Smoking can also aggravate the disease.

COMPLICATIONS [1]

  • Bending or deformation of joints that may cause:
  • Difficulty doing daily tasks as you may experience so much pain moving your joints.
  • Difficulty in walking or sitting up straight.
  • Fractures which may occur from continuous injuries or strain from weight.
  • Depending on the type of arthritis you have, heart problems and lung disease may develop. This is common in rheumatoid arthritis.

LIFESTYLE MODIFICATIONS [1;4]

  • Exercise: three to five times a week for at least 30 minutes. This is to give you some physical activity to relieve the stress on the joints by strengthening your
    muscles, tendons and ligaments and for weight loss.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Have a healthy diet: some foods can aggravate arthritis and others may be of benefit. Speak to your doctor about the type of foods you need to eat according to the type of arthritis you have.
  • Sensation of smoking.
  • If you are having difficulty managing pain or with doing daily activities speak to the doctor about physiotherapy and/or occupational therapy

Medical References

Mayo Clinic Staff [Internet]. Arthritis. America: Mayo Clinic; [updated 2019 Jul 19; cited 2019 Aug 19]. Available
from:https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350772.
Nichols, H. [Internet]. What are the causes and types of arthritis? Brighton, UK: Healthline Media; [updated 2017 Nov
14; cited 2019 Aug 19]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7621.php.
Breaking the Pain Chain [Internet]. Lifestyle Modifications. Atlanta: Arthritis Foundation; [cited 2019 Aug 19].
Available from:https://www.arthritis.org/toolkits/arthritis-pain/treating-pain/lifestyle-modifications.php.

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