Arthritis Treatment and Prevention

By: Juliet Cohen

Arthritis is a disease that causes pain and loss of movement of the joints. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 55. Arthritis affects the movements you rely on for everyday activities. Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. There are many forms of arthritis, each of which has a different cause. Inflammatory arthritis is characterized by inflammation of tissues associated with joints. Connective tissue diseases, crystal deposition diseases, infectious arthritis, and spondyloarthropathies are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are autoimmune diseases in which the body is attacking itself. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection. Gouty arthritis is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint that results in subsequent inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is traditionally considered a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints. It is a disabling and painful inflammatory condition, which can lead to substantial loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction. Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults.

RA is a systemic disease, often affecting extra-articular tissues throughout the body including the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs, and muscles. Psoriatic arthritis (or arthropathic psoriasis) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects around 20% of people suffering from the chronic skin condition psoriasis. It occurs more commonly in patients with tissue type HLA-B27. Treatment of psoriatic arthritis is similar to that of rheumatoid arthritis. More than 80% of patients with psoriatic arthritis will have psoriatic nail lesions characterised by pitting of the nails, or more extremely, loss of the nail itself (onycholysis). Psoriatic arthritis is said to be a seronegative spondyloarthropathy. Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) is a ubiquitous joint disease characterized pathologically by deterioration of cartilage lining the joints and new bone formation beneath the cartilage. The disease is very common in older persons and is thought to be inherent in the aging process.Degenerative joint disease is marked by a progressive stiffness, loss of function, and destruction of the larger, weight-bearing joints of the body.

Nonarticular rheumatism is a group of diseases, also called soft-tissue rheumatisms, that includes tendonitis, bursitis, tenosynovitis, and fibrositis. Septic arthritis is the invasion of the joint space by an infectious agent. The usual etiology is bacterial, but viral, mycobacterial, and fungal arthritis occur occasionally. Bacteria are either carried by the bloodstream from an infectious focus elsewhere, introduced by a skin lesion. For bacterial infection, Pseudomonas aeruginosa has been found to infect joints, for example in children who have sustained a puncture wound. This bacteria also causes endocarditis. Septic arthritis should be suspected when one joint (monoarthritis) is affected and the patient is febrile. Gout is a painful condition that occurs when the body cannot eliminate a natural substance called uric acid. The excess uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints that cause swelling and severe pain. Gout most often affects the big toe, knee and wrist joints. Gout is a form of arthritis (an inflammation of the joints). Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Inflammation of the joints from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, and warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present.

Arthritis Treatment and Prevention Tips

1.Treatment options is depending on the type of arthritis and include physical and occupational therapy, and medications (symptomatic or targeted at the disease process causing the arthritis).

2.Arthroplasty (joint replacement surgery) may be required in eroding forms of arthritis.

3.In conventional treatment, painkillers, such as paracetamol, are essential. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can help with episodes of more severe pain.

4.In recent years a new type of NSAID treatment, called Cox-2 inhibitors, has been launched. These were initially claimed to be less harmful to the stomach and many patients have found that they provided good pain relief for their arthritis.

5.Physiotherapy relieves pain and strengthens muscles around the damaged joint, helping the joint to work better.

6.Regular exercise is beneficial for the same reasons and, once pain is under control, easy to do.

7.Hip and knee replacements are common and usually involve a short hospital visit.

8.Disease-modifying drugs that slow disease progression are available for people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatology
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