Arthritis can be described as the inflammation of joints. It is basically a joint disorder in which one or more joints of the body are affected. It is charaterised by severeand chronic pain in the joints. The pain is due to the inflammation or damage or wearing down of the joints.
Arthritis has been classified into different types, of which the most important ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: It is a chronic condition in which the cartilages that cover the ends of the bones wear down and the resulting exposed bones rub against each other causing pain. This ultimately leads to stiffness and loss of joint functionality. Osteoarthritis affects only the joints unlike the other forms of arthritis which affects the organs.
Rheumatoid arthritis: It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes the deformation of the joints. The disease can be characterised by the symmetry it displays, that is , if one joint of one half of the body is affected, then the same joint on the half side of the body is also affected. Generally, small joints of the fingers are affected.
Other forms of arthritis include Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis which affects children; Psoriatic arthritis which affects people with psoriasis; Gouty arthritis which is caused which there are high levels of uric acid in the body; Infections arthritis caused by bacteria or virus and spreads to joints from other parts of the body.
There are a number of factors that are suspected to be the cause of arthritis, but the exact cause for the condition is unknown. Some of the factors held responsible can be genes , obesity , gender. Some forms of arthritis is seen more in females than males. Obesity put stress on the joints making the condition worse.
As arthritis is the inflammation of joints, pain in the joints, swelling and redness in the affected joints are the primary symptoms. Stiffness in joints, presence of bone spurs and inability to move the joints due to chronic pain are the other symptoms to be noted. As there are many types of arthritis, the symptoms varies accordingly. Fatigue, weight loss, poor sleep and flu-like symptoms are seen commonly.
To diagnose arthritis, a physician performs physical examination of the joints. The physician checks for the tenderness, redness, swelling and range of motion of the joints.
Further, imaging techniques such as x-ray and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the affected parts are performed . Ultrasound scan or computed tomographic (CT) scan, are also used for this purpose. Screening blood tests are carried out primarily.
Arthritis is not a curable disease, however the the symptoms exhibited by the patients can be treated. Treatments are available to reduce the pain,the inflammation, swelling or stiffness, enabling the patient to lead an active life. Disease progression can be slowed down by taking medications and strict monitoring of the results after regular tests.
Certain lifestyle changes such as regular physical exercise, caring the joints and healthy diet are recommended. Losing weight is one of the important thing as obesity puts more strain on the joints. In certain cases, doctors may suggest arthroscopy or replacement surgeries such as Knee arthroscopy or Knee replacement , Elbow arthroscopy or Elbow replacement ,Hip arthroscopy or Hip replacement depending on the severity and site of damage.