Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment



The swelling and pain of one or more joints are symptoms of arthritis. Joint stiffness and pain are the primary signs of arthritis; these symptoms often worsen with age. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most prevalent kinds of arthritis.

Cartilage, which covers the ends of bones where they come together to create a joint, deteriorates as a result of osteoarthritis. The immune system targets the joints in rheumatoid arthritis, starting with the lining of the joints.

Gout can be brought on by uric acid crystals, which develop when your blood uric acid level is too high. Other forms of arthritis can be brought on by infections or underlying conditions like lupus or psoriasis.

The type of arthritis and the treatments differ. Treatments for arthritis primarily aim to lessen symptoms and enhance the quality of life.

Arthritis: Causes

The umbrella word "arthritis" covers more than 100 distinct joint disorders. The most prevalent forms of arthritis consist of −

  • Osteoarthritis, also known as "wear and tear" arthritis, occurs when repeated stress causes joint cartilage to deteriorate. The most typical type of arthritis is this one.

  • Spinal arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis (usually your lower back).

  • JA is a condition when the immune system attacks the tissue surrounding joints. In most cases, JA affects children aged 16 or younger.

  • Gout is a condition that results in the formation of uric acid crystals in your joints.

  • Psoriatic arthritis, a form of joint inflammation that appears in psoriasis sufferers (an autoimmune disorder that causes skin irritation).

  • An illness called rheumatoid arthritis makes your immune system attack the synovial membranes in your joints.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most prevalent type of arthritis, is caused by wear and tear to a joint's cartilage, which is the tough, slippery coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. When cartilage is sufficiently damaged, bone can grind directly against bone, causing pain and limiting movement.

Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows for practically friction-free joint motion. This deterioration may take place gradually over many years or may speed up by an infection or joint damage.

Arthritis Rheumatoid

The strong membrane that surrounds all the joint pieces, the joint capsule, is attacked by the body's immune system in rheumatoid arthritis. This lining (synovial membrane) swells and becomes irritated. Bone and cartilage in the joint may eventually be destroyed by the illness process.

Arthritis: Symptoms

The joints are where arthritis is most frequently seen in its signs and symptoms. Signs and symptoms of various types of arthritis may include −

  • Pain

  • Stiffness

  • Swelling

  • Redness

  • Reduction in range of motion

Arthritis: Risk Factors

The major risk factors include −

  • Family history − If your parents or siblings have arthritis, you may be more likely to have it yourself as some types of arthritis run in families.

  • Age − Age raises the likelihood of developing several types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.

  • Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men, but gout, another kind of arthritis, is more common in males.

  • Obesity − Your knees, hips, and spine are particularly strained when you carry extra weight. Those who are obese are more likely to get arthritis.

People are more prone to later develop arthritis in a joint that has been injured, possibly while participating in sports.

Arthritis: Diagnosis

Doctors examine your joints during the physical to look for edema, redness, and warmth. They'll also check to see how well your joints can move.

In-lab Examinations

The sort of arthritis you may have can be determined by analyzing several body fluid types. Blood, urine, and joint fluid are some fluids that are frequently studied. Doctors prepare the area by cleaning and numbing it before inserting a needle to extract fluid from the joint space.

Imaging

These tests can find issues within the joint that may be the source of your symptoms. Examples comprise −

  • X-rays − X-rays that use low radiation to image bone, can reveal bone spurs, damaged bone, and cartilage loss. X-rays are frequently used to monitor the course of the disease even though they may not detect early arthritic damage.

  • Computer-aided imaging (CT). With the use of a combination of X-rays taken from various angles, CT scanners may produce cross-sectional images of inside structures. Bone and the surrounding soft tissues can both be seen on a CT scan.

  • Imaging with magnetic resonance (MRI) Using a powerful magnetic field and radio waves, MRIs can create more accurate cross-sectional images of soft tissues including cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.

  • Ultrasound − High-frequency sound waves are used in this technology to photograph the soft tissues, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures close to the joints (bursae). In order to remove joint fluid or provide medication to the joint, ultrasound is also used to guide the placement of the needle.

Arthritis: Treatment

Treatment for arthritis focuses on reducing symptoms and enhancing joint performance. Before figuring out which treatment or combination of treatments is best for you, you might need to try a few different ones.

Medications

Depending on the type of arthritis, different drugs are used to treat it. Typical treatments for arthritis include the following −

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) − NSAIDs can reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and other brands) and naproxen sodium are two examples (Aleve). More potent NSAIDs may irritate your stomach and raise your heart attack or stroke risk. NSAIDs can also be used topically on joints as lotions or gels.

  • Counterirritants − Some lotions and ointments have menthol or capsaicin, which is what gives hot peppers their spicy flavor. The transmission of pain signals from the painful joint itself may be hampered by applying these preparations to the skin over the area.

  • Steroids − Prednisone and other corticosteroid drugs lessen pain and inflammation while also slowing joint deterioration.

  • Anti-rheumatic medications that treat disease (DMARDs). These medications can stop the evolution of rheumatoid arthritis and prevent irreparable damage to the joints and other tissues. There are targeted synthetic DMARDs and biological agents in addition to traditional DMARDs. The majority of DMARDs raise your risk of infections, however, side effects can vary.

Therapy

Some kinds of arthritis can benefit from physical therapy. Exercise can strengthen the muscles around joints and increase the range of motion. Splints or braces could be necessary for specific circumstances.

Surgery

If non-surgical options are unsuccessful, doctors may recommend surgery, such as −

  • Joint restoration − Joint surfaces can occasionally be straightened or smoothed to lessen pain and enhance function. These procedures can frequently be carried out arthroscopically, through a few tiny incisions made over the joint.

  • Joint reconstruction − The damaged joint is removed during this treatment, and a synthetic one is put in its place. Hips and knees are the joints that need replacement the most.

  • Fused joints − Smaller joints like those in the fingers, wrist, and ankle are the ones that this surgery is utilized on the most frequently.

Arthritis: Prevention

The occurrence of Arthritis can be prevented in the following ways −

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Maintain blood sugar control

  • Exercise

  • Stretch

  • Avert harm

  • Give up smoking

  • Twice a week, eat fish

  • Receive regular preventative care

Conclusion

In conclusion, only a few forms of arthritis can be healed, affecting millions of adults. As a result, the goal of arthritis treatment must be to halt the disease's course and manage its symptoms. You maintain joint functionality and lessen the severity of the illness by doing this.

Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha
Dr. Durgesh Kumar Sinha

MBBS MS [ OPHTHALMOLOGY ]


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