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What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a severe painful disease and its treatment is even more complicated. This blog is for average reader and understandable for everybody. Hopefully you’d find something helpful for your loved one. There are different forms of arthritis and its symptoms affect many areas of life. Let’s see what is arthritis?

  • What Is Arthritis?

Hopefully, you may not a patient of arthritis, but probably you may know someone. As a matter fact,  more than 10% adult in USA are diagnosed with arthritis. Similarly as per European League Against Rheumatism, around, one quarter of Europeans also have some kind of arthritis. Its affects are, more or less, also similar e.g. pain, but there are certain differences regarding its affects.

Arthritis is a category of constant conditions that includes around more than 100 different diagnoses. Arthritis is a combination of two words arthro (joint) and it is (inflamed). Its common symptoms are stiffness, joint pain, and deformity due to tissue damage. Just like other connective tissues, tissues surrounding joints also affected.

In arthritis, body attacks itself and its conditions can impact muscular strength, certain organ systems and mood. Yoga practices that can have beneficial impact on conditions like lupus, lyme disease, psoriatic and gout etc. Please note that I am a researcher and all I am sharing is my experience and research. Now let see through some very important and general gossips and important discussion regarding arthritis.

  1. Don’t exercise if you’ve developed arthritis.

One of the common and illogical rumor regarding arthritis, is that if you’ve developed arthritis symptoms, DON’T exercise. Unfortunately, this general myth further contributes to worsen arthritis symptoms with the passage of time. Joints moving exercises like walking, yoga or even swimming, reduce pain around the joints and strengthens muscles. Relaxation is also necessary for arthritis. In order to balance rest and exercise, you may consult your physical therapist.

  1. Whether arthritis only affects specific joints?

Absolutely not. Even though in weight-bearing persons arthritis is common, but it can affect almost any joint in the body.

  1. Arthritis treatment is long.

It almost took a year to get a proper diagnosis and receive proper treatment. Because many patients delay in search of treatment and diagnosed after a much time. Due to such delay, mostly it takes months to find appropriate cure schedule for systemic arthritis. But this is not the fault of practitioner, because different patients behave differently in different treatments.

  1. Don’t be-fooled by disappearance of arthritis symptoms.

Just keep in mind, although medications and other treatments can ease the symptoms of arthritis, but arthritis has no cure. Treatments can only slow the development and progression of disease. [Tweet “Sometimes, even without any treatment, arthritis symptoms disappear, but may come back after weeks, months, or even years later.”]So it doesn’t mean that if arthritis symptoms are disappeared then you are cured.

  1. Men are susceptible to Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) than women?

Absolutely not. RA is autoimmune disease (in which body’s immune system mistakenly attacks joints), affects women more double than men. Mostly RA begins between the age of 30 to 40, but there is no determined age for arthritis. It can strike at any age. [Tweet “It’s still a mystery that why RA is more general in women. Not for sure, but may be female hormone estrogen participate in the development of disease.”]

  1. Gout is the lower form of arthritis.

It’s a wrong perception that gout is mildest form of arthritis. Rather, acute gout can be tremendously painful. It is caused due to increase of uric-acid in joints. Inflammation may cause skin to drag strongly around the joint and make the entire area purple and very soft. It mostly happens in older men by affecting toes, elbows, ankles, hands and wrists. Fortunately, medicines can stop such attacks, alongwith preventing further attacks or damage to joints.

  1. Arthritis medications are dangerous to health?

Although the majority of medications have some side effects, but they also save lives. It’s wrong to say that arthritis medicines should be avoided as they are injurious or poisonous to health.

  1. It’s enough if you have one swelling joint.

Mostly it has been advised that

You must have swelling in at least three joints before arthritis can be diagnosed

Wrong. Even swelling in just single joint is sufficient for arthritis diagnosis. Amongst others symptoms, joint pain, morning stiffness that is continuous or often, and redness in a joint, are included.

  1. Is it one of leading causes of disability?

Despite minimizing its effects, arthritis sometimes is as ruthless as it is one of the peak causes of disability nowadays.

  1. Your control over the experience of disease can make a difference.

It is probable that people suffering from arthritis may feel better. Because they have some control over as how they understand the disease. There is no other option, but self-care, and it is a inevitable. In order to support wellbeing, arthritis patient must be careful with nutritional choices, rest, as well as activity levels.

  • Who is susceptible to Arthritis?

No one is beyond this disease as anyone can get arthritis. [Tweet “Since last about two decades, arthritis is the general cause of disability among US adults.”] Around 55 million US population has been diagnosed with either form of arthritis. In another study conducted over 600 individuals, it was found that 14% of them had undiagnosed seditious arthritis. Moreover its prevalence is expected to rise at 78 million by 2040 which make 25% of the adult population. Such increment of risks factors of arthritis includes obesity and inflammation.

As per report, about half of 65 years old American population has been reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In some of other high income countries, such prevalence is upto 80% for people of 65 years of age. It is estimated that such growth, by 2050, joint disease such as Osteoarthritis will impact at 130 million people, universally. [Tweet “Additionally, women are tend to live long than men, and more susceptible to arthritis. Having said that, within next 20 years, 2/3rd majority of arthritis patients, would be women.”]

  • Kinds of Arthritis and their reasons

  • In most common form i.e. Osteoarthritis, cartilage, is compromised. This is due to involuntary process in which resistance wears away at cartilage. It becomes worsen by overweight or recurring movements. With further cuts in cartilage surface, deterioration speeds up.
  • Similarly Osteophytes (bony projection associated with deteriorated cartilage) also appeared in response to friction, which add to mechanical challenges. As of now we know that Osteoarthritis is not completely biomechanical, and that low-grade inflammatory processes also plays important role. Moreover, complicating matters like enhanced inflammation, creating additional pressure on weight-holding joints and contributing to inflammation-related mechanisms.
  • Other kinds of arthritis, like Rheumatoid-Arthritis, lupus, Ankylosing-spondylitis and Psoriatic arthritis, targets joint tissue mainly through over-activation of immune-system.
        • Psoriatic arthritis impacts low percentage of people with skin disease called psoriasis (skin with red, itchy and scaly patches). Frequently it affects toes and fingers, but can also affect Achilles muscle in ankle.
        • Lupus can impinge on muscles, organs, joints or even skin. It influence more women than men and can differ significantly in harshness.
        • Ankylosing spondylitis survives in spine and can upshot in loss of spinal mobility. It has strapping genetic module and mostly strikes young adults. In some of these forms, the process of such attacking starts with synovial capsule (membrane which contains synovial fluid). Different kinds of cells which are part of immune-system create inflammatory process, begins to deteriorate many aspects of joint tissue.

  • Gout as arthritis.

It is caused with the development of uric acid in joints. Uric-acid produces a structure in joint which is tremendously painful and can be redressed by reducing production of uric acid. As uric-acid produced from breakdown purines, therefore diet with reduced purines e.g. red meat, may help to address gout symptoms.

Every person is distinctive with psychology and biology, different from anyone else. [Tweet “It has been observed that diagnosis of rheumatology may vary from person to person because these situations behave in a different way.”] Similarly each person responds them differently. That’s why every condition has different name.

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)

With different characteristics RA and OA are different diseases.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is most usual form of arthritis, affecting almost 40 million US population. As per report published by World Health Organization in July, 2013, it was observed that:

“The prevalence of OA is increasing due to population ageing and an increase in related factors such as obesity. According to the United Nations, by 2050 people aged over 60 will account for more than 20% of the world’s population. Of that 20%, a conservative estimate of 15% will have symptomatic OA, and one-third of these people will be severely disabled. This means that by 2050, 130 million people will suffer from OA worldwide, of whom 40 million will be severely disabled by the disease. Costs associated with OA include costs for adaptive aids and devices, medicines, surgery, and time off at work.”

Often OA is a result of aging and depreciation in weight-bearing joints like hips, knees and spine. But it can also impact joints with no weight bearing like hands due to overuse. At the initial stage of disease rest gets relief and even very little activity brings pain. But with the passage of time, very little movement also brings pain, even during rest. [Tweet “As compare to RA, there is systemic inflammation in OA. There may be several causes for OA in different joints, like in hips and hand may be genetic.”]Overuse or injury in hips, knees or hands, also may cause OA. Its symptoms include, pain, stiffness, often mild pain in joints. It can become stressful due to physical limitations, as daily anxiety can aggravate pain thereby affecting psychological health.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

RA is inflammatory condition, which alongwith swelling joints and pain suffering, also end with muscle tissue loss i.e. Rheumatoid Cachexia. In RA, due to swelling, fatigue and pain, it reduces physical functioning and strength. It can be highly devastating as it causes harm to tendons, cartilage and bone.

This damage further causes instability and deformity in joints, thereby limiting motion. Morning stiffness, swelling in joints, swelling of same joints on both sides e.g. both knees, are signs of RA. As of now, medications are unable to eliminate disability that occurring due to joint damage. But its progress and destructive course can be decrease through early treatment and hard line medication management.

  • Medication and tools for Arthritis

Irrespective of any form of arthritis, proper medication and to follow medical advice, is much important. Alongwith medication it can be assistive devices like splints and walkers, or it can be surgery, for arthritis treatment. Assistive devices help the body by keeping it safe and stabilizing by aiding movement, and can provide higher functioning level.

However, assistive devices only provide relief, and do not address root cause of disease. Similarly tools like orthotics or high toilet seats can improve daily life, by avoiding chronic pain and limited activity.

Fundamental aspect of arthritis treatment is medication, by addressing pain, inflammation and other symptoms of disease. Individuals can have different kind of arthritis and therefore every person needs medication as per need of disease. Actually medication is a personalized treatment rule, and while prescribing and taking medication, one must be careful with side effects.

Never ever alter medication on your own, instead take healthcare advice regarding medication. Likewise, never stop medication on your own. As some medications are may be to manage symptoms, but some medications are as necessary prevent disease progression and inflammation.

  • Surgery as treatment

Similarly, doctors may advise for surgery in some cases as it can improve life quality by giving relief in pain. However, surgery may change and limit future activity and lifestyle. Initially, surgery may provide relief, but with the passage of time, many patients complained about return of pain, sometimes worse.

Surgery often destroys adjacent tissues which cause unexpected results. Therefore, it’s good to think about other relieving options like strengthening tissues with exercise and weight loss, before attempting surgery. Consider all available possible choices before going through surgery, including change of work routine and fitness. Well if there is no such option is available, as disease getting serious, then don’t unnecessarily delay the surgery.




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