Frequently Asked Questions About Arthritis

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Arthritis is an incredibly common medical condition that affects roughly 40 million people in the United States alone. The condition is characterized by persistent join inflammation and pain, this pain and inflammation can often restrict the movement of those suffering from the illness.

Arthritis in many ways is an umbrella diagnosis, with over 100 other diseases being considered Arthritic. Most cases of Arthritis are considered chronic, affecting those diagnosed for the entirety of their lives once the condition makes its initial presentation. Nevertheless, although there are over 100 types of Arthritis, the most common types of Arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Nearly one in seven Americans have some form of arthritis, and although the condition is often considered to be one that only affects the elderly – it is also regularly found in young children; therefore, Arthritis affects peoples of all ages.

 

 

What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

As there are numerous variations of Arthritis, the symptoms of the condition can be equally varied. That’s why it’s important that you receive an accurate diagnosis if you suffer from any of the following:

  • Tenderness, Stiffness or Pain in your Joints
  • Inflammation in and around your Joints
  • Limited, Restricted or No Movement in your Joints
  • Red Skin that’s Warm and can also be Sore over the Affected Joint
  • Any Sudden or Progressive Onset of Muscle Weakness and Wasting
  • Bone Spurs, or Lumps of Bone that have Formed around the Joint

If you feel that you are exhibiting symptoms of Arthritis, it’s recommended that you book an appointment with a healthcare professional who can begin the process of diagnosis.

 

Is Arthritis a Serious Condition?

Arthritis can be a serious condition depending on your variation of the medical condition. Osteoarthritis, which is a form of degenerative arthritis, is the most common type of Arthritis and is perhaps one of the least serious variations of the condition.

On the other hand, Rheumatoid Arthritis is a far more serious medical condition than a degenerative form of Arthritis like Osteoarthritis. This is primarily because Rheumatoid Arthritis is caused by the immune system of the patient and therefore has bigger implications. Sufferers of Rheumatoid Arthritis are often afflicted by other Auto-Immune disorders such as Psoriasis, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases or Type 1 Diabetes.  In cases of Arthritis that are caused by auto-immune and inflammatory diseases, it’s important that prompt and aggressive treatments are pursued right away to avoid long-term damage.

Some types of Arthritis, known as Infectious Arthritis, are caused by a bacterium, virus or fungus. Examples of these could be Salmonella, Gonorrhoea and Hepatitis C. If Infectious Arthritis isn’t treated promptly, the damage the infection causes can lead to long term or chronic arthritic symptoms. That’s why it’s important to receive prompt medical advice if you believe you are suffering from symptoms of a form of Arthritis.

 

 

What are the Types of Arthritis?

There are over 100 different types of Arthritis or Arthritic conditions that can affect a person, here are a few of the most common types of the illness:

Osteoarthritis – The most common form of Arthritis affecting western populations is Osteoarthritis; approximately 21 million of 40 million people diagnosed with Arthritis in the United States have been diagnosed with Osteo Arthritis.  The condition typically initially presents itself in adults over the age of 45, is more likely to affect women and is also more likely to afflict those who have a family history of the condition.

The disease often firstly targets the smooth cartilage that lines the inside of your joints. As the disease continues to progress, the quantity and quality of the smooth cartilage in your joint decreases. Without smooth cartilage, friction in the joints increases and movement becomes increasingly difficult. Without cartilage bones often rub against each other, and in doing so often force each other out of position – this creates unnatural movements, postures and inevitably more discomfort and pain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis – Rheumatoid Arthritis is the second most common form of Arthritis in the United States, affecting roughly 1.5 million people. The condition often initially tends to present itself in adults between the ages of 40 and 50. Furthermore, if you’re a woman you’re three times more likely to develop the condition than if you are a man; if you have a family history of the condition you are also more pre-disposed to developing it.

 

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis, unlike Osteoarthritis, is a chronic auto-immune disease. This means that the disease is caused by the patient’s own immune system attacking the cartilage and membrane of the joint. As the disease progresses, so too does the targeting of the whole joint – eventually the joint becomes warped out of its natural shape. Warping of the joint inevitably leads to the further breakdown of the joint’s bone and cartilage.

You’d be forgiven if you thought that Rheumatoid Arthritis only affected the joints of afflicted individual, sadly because it’s an auto-immune condition the inflammation can begin to affect a range of organs and tissues around the body.

 

Ankylosing Spondylitis – Ankylosing Spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that tends to primarily affect the bones, muscles and ligaments of the spine – this often leads to increasing stiffness and the joints of the patient even beginning to fuse together. Ankylosing Spondylitis is another auto-immune disease and so it’s not uncommon for this form of Arthritis to also cause inflammation and swelling in tendons, eyes and large joints.

Cervical Spondylosis – Cervical Spondylosis is often referred to as a form of degenerative Osteoarthritis. This form of Arthritis tends to present itself in the joints and the bones of a patient’s neck, this causes pain, stiffness and reduction in comfortable movement.

Gout – Gout is sometimes referred to as being the ‘rich man’s disease’ as it can sometimes be the result of a poor diet of extravagant foods and drinks. The condition is caused by excessive amounts of uric acid in the body. As the body struggles to rid itself of this acid, it can often be left to pool in the joints (usually the big toe) – but it can begin to develop in any joint. The symptoms of Gout include intense pain as well as redness and swelling around the affected joint.

Psoriatic Arthritis – Psoriatic Arthritis is an inflammatory joint condition that affects people suffering from the auto-immune skin condition Psoriasis. Symptoms of the condition are similar to most forms of Arthritis with inflammation, swelling and soreness in the affected joints.

Entereopathic Arthritis – Entereopathic Arthritis is a form of chronic Arthritis characterized by extreme inflammation. The condition is heavily associated with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), the two most common forms of IBD are Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease. Sadly around 20% of people with a form of IBD will develop Entereopathic Arthritis. The condition tends to present itself in the joints of the limbs as well as the joints of the spine.

Reactive Arthritis – Reactive Arthritis tends to develop as a result of an infection in the body, particularly infections in the bowel, genital tract or throat. Reactive Arthritis tends to cause painful swelling and inflammation in the joints, the eyes and the urethra.

Secondary Arthritis – Secondary Arthritis tends to initially present itself many years after a significant joint injury. The condition is characterized by swelling and inflammation in and around the affected joint.

 

 

How Does Arthritis Feel?

As there are many different types of Arthritis, there are many different symptoms and feelings associated with each variation. Nevertheless, there are some tell-tale symptoms and feelings that you shouldn’t overlook if you think you might be suffering from an Arthritic condition, these include:

  • Stiff, Tender and Painful Feelings in and around your Joints
  • Feelings of Restriction and Limited Movement in your Joints
  • Sore Red Skin that can be Incredibly Warm over Affected Joints
  • Feelings of Weakness and Fatigue in your Muscles and Limbs
  • Feelings of Grating or Catching in your Joints and Bones

If you feel that you are displaying symptoms associated with an Arthritic condition, it’s important you seek out the help of a medical professional to ensure you are diagnosed accurately.

 

Why Do My Joints Make a Popping Noise?

Firstly, snapping and popping joints are incredibly common and often absolutely nothing to worry about. Snapping and popping noises within the joints of the human skeleton are caused by tiny air bubbles that form in the synovial fluid (the liquid that surrounds your joints and makes sure their movements are lubricated). They are also commonly caused by the snapping of ligaments that are tightly stretched in the body as they move off of one bone surface onto another.

With that being said, if any of these sounds are regularly accompanied by intense pain, aching, swelling or discomfort, it’s recommended that you seek out the opinion of a healthcare professional.

 

Will Cracking My Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

Currently there is no evidence that suggests that cracking one’s knuckles causes any long-term damage to the joint such as Arthritis.

 

 

What are the Early Signs of Arthritis?

As there are many different forms of Arthritis it’s hard to give a definitive answer on what the early signs of Arthritic progression may look like. With that being said, some key symptoms to look out for include:

  • Joint Pain
  • Joint Swelling
  • Red & Warm Skin Around Affected Joint
  • Stiffness in Affected Joint
  • General Fatigue
  • A Loss in the Range of Available Motion
  • Asymmetric Posture
  • Limping
  • Anaemia
  • Fever

 

How Can I treat Arthritis?

Sadly, there is currently no cure for any form of Arthritis – the vast majority of cases of Arthritis are chronic, life-long medical conditions. Nevertheless, there are plenty of treatments available that can help reduce symptoms of the disease and slow its progression.

Treatments for the most common form of Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, include: lifestyle & dietary changes, oral medications, topical medications and creams as well as surgery if other forms of treatment begin to prove less effective.

Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis on the other hand is much different due to the condition’s nature as an auto-immune disease. These treatments tend to revolve around slowing down the progression of the disease and aiming to minimize significant joint damage. Treatments include: lifestyle & dietary changes, physiotherapy, oral medication, IV medication and topical medications such as cream and ointments. If the condition progresses to a point where these treatments are no longer effective, then surgery must be considered.

If you have recently been diagnosed with, or believe you have Arthritis, get in contact with a medical professional to help come up with an effective treatment plan to control the condition.

 

 

Can Exercise Help Arthritis?

Yes, low impact and strength-building based exercise can help to limit the impact and symptoms of Arthritis. Try swapping out running and cycling for swimming or climbing! Furthermore, body-weight or calisthenic exercises are a brilliant way to build supportive muscle around an affected joint. This supportive muscle will help to reduce the intensity of symptoms such as pain, swelling and inflammation by reducing Arthritic pain and strain on the joint.

Nevertheless, make sure you speak to a medical professional before embarking on any intensive exercise program. Some medical professionals may advise rest, recuperation and physiotherapy before recommending you begin a gentle exercise routine.

Furthermore, if you are scared of developing Arthritis, making sure you participate in regular low impact exercise is one of the medically agreed upon factors that can prevent Arthritis developing.

 

Can Arthritis Affect Children?

Yes, many forms of Arthritis can affect young children; the condition can affect people of all ages.

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