Arthritis is a very painful inflammation of joints in the body. It's not a specific disease but an informal way of referring to joint pain & inflammation, and consists of 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. Symptoms vary from swelling, pain, stiffness to decreased ability to move around. They can range from mild, moderate to severe, and remain the same for years, but may progress and become worse with time. The most severe forms of arthritis can cause chronic pain, and the inability to move around without help or perform daily living activities, such as holding a cup, pen, etc.

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Types of Arthritis

- Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is common for older people and mostly affects the fingers, knees, and hips. It's also known as degenerative arthritis.

  • It is caused by collapse of joint cartilage and underlying bone
  • Very often joints on one side of the body are more affected than those on the other.

- Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system doesn't work properly

  • Results in warm, swollen, and painful joints, most commonly in the hands & feet.
  • The symptoms are worse after periods of rest.
  • Both Genetic and environmental factors.

Pain in the joints is the first sign of Arthritis. Some forms of Arthritis may have different symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Rash or itch
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty in Breathing

Common Symptoms

- Pain

  • Can be constant or intermittent
  • May be felt only in one part of the body or in several

- Swelling

  • The skin over the affected joint may turn red and become inflamed. It may feel warm to the touch

- Stiffness, typical arthritis symptom

  • Occurring upon waking up in the morning, after sitting down for extended periods
  • Some types of Arthritis are characterized by stiffness after exercise or persistent stiffness.

- Difficulty in moving joints

  • Moving joints is difficult and/or painful

Diagnosis

A doctor's visit will let you know which type of Arthritisyou may have, leading to better treatment options. Arthritis diagnosis incorporates: - Detailed medical history - Physical examination - Specific radiographic and laboratory studies such as:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Rheumatoid factor (for Rheumatoid Arthritis)
  • Joint ultrasound or MRI
  • Blood culture
  • Thyroid function
  • Urine & Blood tests for Uric acid, etc

This is not the entire list of tests recommended by doctors to diagnose the type of arthritis a patient is suffering from, nor will all of the them be required to determine a diagnosis of arthritis.

Treatment Options

Arthritis is treated on an individual's requirements & includes:

  • Medicines such as acetaminophen, naproxene, corticosteroid joint injections, etc.
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Splints or joint assistive aids, i. e., canes, knee supports, etc.
  • Surgery - joint replacement and joint surgery.
  • Weight loss & management