Arthritis : Symptoms, causes , diagnosis and management

Arthritis : Symptoms, causes , diagnosis and management

Arthritis is a disease of joints (inflammation of joints). There are many types of arthritis.

Types of Arthritis are:

Osteoarthritis: It is often related to aging or to an injury.
Rheumatoid arthritis: It is the most common form of arthritis.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis: It is a form of the disease that occurs in children.
Infectious arthritis: It is an infection that has spread from another part of the body to the joint.
Gout: It is Inflammation of joints.

The major complaint of individual is pain in joints which is localized and is often consistent. The pain from arthritis is due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damaged joint due to daily wear and tear or disease, muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff painful joints and fatigue.

Symptoms of Arthritis

The commonest symptoms involve joints. Joint pain and stiffness is common feature along with swelling of joints.

Arthritic disorders like lupus and rheumatoid can also affect other organs in the body with a variety of symptoms.

Difficulty in walking
Malaise and a feeling of tiredness
Weight loss
Poor sleep
Muscle aches and pains
Difficulty in moving the joint

Causes of Arthritis

When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body are released into the blood or affected tissues. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause leakage of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.


Diagnosis of Arthritis

Physical Examination: It may show swollen, warm or red joints with restriction of movement.
Blood test: This is generally done for rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid factor (RF): It is checked for rheumatoid arthritis. However, RF can also be found in people without RA or with other autoimmune disorders. In general, if no rheumatoid factor is present in someone with RA, the course of the disease is less severe.

Levels of ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels: These are also increased. Both CRP and ESR levels are used to check disease activity and also to monitor how well someone is responding to treatment.

Imaging scans: Like X-ray, CT scans and MRI are commonly used to get the image of bones and cartilage to ascertain diagnosis.

Management of Arthritis

Physical exercise: During pain, exercise seems to be the last option but  muscle strengthening and stretching exercises have proved to be very helpful.

To relieve pain: Pain relievers like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs generally interfere with chemicals called prostaglandins in the body, which trigger pain, inflammation, and fever. They are very helpful in relieving pain in all forms of arthritis.

Surgery: Joint replacement surgery is often performed for those who are not able to walk or have lot of difficulty in walking.

Disease-modifying anti rheumatic drugs (DMARDs): Often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis; DMARDs slow or stop immune system that attack joints. Examples include methotrexate (Trexall) and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).

Intra-articular injection: It is a procedure used in the treatment of inflammatory joint conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, tendinitis, bursitis and occasionally osteoarthritis. A hypodermic needle is injected into the affected joint where it delivers a dose of any one of many anti-inflammatory agents, the most common of which are corticosteroids.