Arthritis: what you need to know
Arthritis is often referred to as a disease caused by inflammation of the joints. It should be noted that arthritis can appear in two forms: acute or chronic. Although generally benign, arthritis can have disabling consequences in the long run. There is therefore not a single arthritis but several types of arthritis.
We speak of monoarthritis when only one joint is affected. Polyarthritis is an arthritis in which several joints are involved.
Arthritis can also occur at any age, as is the case with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the other very common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis.
Causes of arthritis:
The origins of arthritis come from two main sources:
Rheumatism can be the cause. This is due to excessive friction of a tendon against a joint or bone.
Arthritis can also be caused by an infection. This is the case with Lyme disease, for example.
Arthritis can also be a symptom of another disease. Psoriatic arthritis, for example, is a disease that reproduces the symptoms of arthritis in patients with psoriasis.
Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, and ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory disease affecting the dorsal vertebrae, are two diseases for which arthritis is one of the major symptoms.
However, arthritis may be due to other causes. This is the case of rheumatoid arthritis, which is an inflammatory disease that affects many joints: hands, feet, wrists, etc. The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are mainly heredity, lifestyle and especially an autoimmune cause (the patient's immune system attacks itself).
Symptoms of arthritis:
There are several types of arthritis and therefore very different symptoms. Similarly, depending on the location and stage of development, the pain experienced due to arthritis varies amongst patients.
The general symptoms of arthritis are an inflammation of the tendons, which are then painful, especially during physical exertion and slings felt by the patient, which are sometimes daily.
Bursitis (swelling/swelling of the joint), redness, heat sensations, stiffness of the joint and decreased joint motor skills are symptoms that are also specific to arthritis.
Complications and Treatments
Possible complications of arthritis:
The complications of arthritis can be serious for the daily lives of patients.
The degradation of joints and the gradual loss of control over them are consequences of arthritis. These complications can occur gradually, as can be seen in osteoarthritis, a joint disease affecting the cartilage.
Osteoarthritis is one of the forms of arthritis that occurs with the aging of cartilage. Osteoarthritis is an arthritis that occurs with "wear and tear" and most often affects the elderly. However, overweight and the very intensive practice of a sport requiring a very specific joint can lead to osteoarthritis.
In septic arthritis disease (joint disease of infectious origin), these effects on the joints occur much more quickly.
For each type of arthritis there is a specific treatment.
To fight against pain, analgesics can be prescribed. Steroids and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are proposed, acting both on pain reduction and against inflammation. For some types of osteoarthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, treatment such as anti-rheumatic drugs can also be used.
If the above-mentioned treatments do not work, the possibility of injecting corticosteroids directly into the affected joints should be considered. However, this option remains secondary.
In general, rest, balanced sleep, physical activity, good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle help to reduce arthritis pain.
For example, depending on the type of joint pain, some physical exercises are recommended rather than others. Strength training exercises provide better support for the joints, while stretching is designed to keep muscles and tendons as flexible and mobile as possible.
The use of health specialists can also help to minimise arthritis symptoms. Physiotherapists, massage therapists and occupational therapists will act as appropriate.
Food for Arthritis:
As mentioned, having a balanced diet is very beneficial in managing arthritis. Some sufferers take supplements such as fish oils or ginger. Turmeric is known to have an amazing anti-inflammatory effect on arthritis, you can read about the benefits of adding turmeric to your diet here.
Sources: Health Sheet NHS choices
Published 22 Mar 2017