Arthritis

  • Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Masoodi
  • Publish Date: Oct 8 2018 3:18AM
  • |
  • Updated Date: Oct 8 2018 3:18AM
ArthritisRepresentational Pic

Arthritis is poorly understood by common people. Arthritis is inflammation in and around joints. It is a rheumatic condition. Arthritis is an informal way of referring to more than 100 types of joint diseases with different causes and treatments. Two of most important kinds are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Arthritis is not an old age disease though it is seen in adults over the age of 55 years. It can develop in children, teens and younger adults too. Arthritis is more common among women than men. It is a leading cause of disability.

 

Symptoms

Arthritis are rheumatic conditions that tend to involve pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. They can be mild, moderate or severe. Many people with arthritis notice their symptoms are worse in morning and feel better as day progresses. Certain forms of  Inflammatory Arthritis  like RA, SLE (Lupus), Scleroderma, Psoriatic Arthritis, Sjogrens Syndrome, MCTD, UCTD etc. can involve various internal organs like lungs, kidneys, eyes, heart, stomach and intestines and can be life threatening.

 

Causes

Normal wear and tear causes degenerative or mechanical osteoarthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint in your body, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.

Your risk of developing OA may be higher if you have a family history of the disease. Another common form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disorder. It occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body. These attacks affect the synovium, a soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.

Researchers are still trying to find out why a person’s immune system starts attacking the healthy joints of the body.

Diagnosis  

 

Symptoms of Arthritis take time to develop and the initial signs are joint pain, swelling and stiffness. A person may also feel fatigued. Consult a Rheumatologist who, with the help of your medical history, X-rays, physical and laboratory tests will diagnose you or see your primary care Physician if you are unsure who to see for an arthritis diagnosis.

 

Treatment

The main goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pain you’re experiencing and prevent additional damage to the joints. Improving your joint function is also important. Your doctor may prescribe you a combination of treatment methods to achieve the best results. Since Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disorder, curing it completely is still unlikely. Hence, the following approach is used by doctors to provide maximum comfort and relief to the patients:

Slowing down inflammation and swelling with the help of disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) like methotrexate, hydroxycholroquine, sulphasalazine are some of the options. Research has shown that having a tight control over RA can prevent further damage to the joints. Early, aggressive treatment strategy is to reduce or stop inflammation as quickly as possible – the earlier, the better.

Contrary to the popular belief, steroids are used only for a short period, particularly for quick response and restoration of function. Most patients don’t need steroids.

NSAIDs are commonly prescribed for temporary pain relief.

Surgery to replace your joint with an artificial one may be an option. This form of surgery is most commonly performed to replace hips and knees. 

Physical therapy involving exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint is a core component of arthritis treatment. It is extremely important that patients keep themselves physically active, or else immobility can set in quickly. Regular exercise will keep your joints flexible. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight reduce the risk of developing OA and can reduce symptoms if you already have it.

Heat treatments, such as heat pads or warm baths, tend to work best for soothing stiff joints and tired muscles. Cold is best for acute pain. It can numb painful areas and reduce inflammation.

Diet with anti-oxidants, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish, can help reduce inflammation.

Frequent visits to the doctor (Rheumatologist or Physician), right treatment, an active life style and learning about the disease is crucial.

While there’s no cure for arthritis, some can lead normal life if diagnosed at appropriate time.

Approach a Rheumatologist or Physician so that you can get right treatment at the earliest point of disease. Arthritis is no doubt a painful disorder, sometimes it is distressing and may threaten your normal life.

Never panic. Right diagnosis at right time and the right treatment can greatly reduce your symptoms and improve quality of life that will put your life back on right track. 

 

Dr. Mukhtar Ahmad Masoodi, M.D , FRCR, Consultant Rheumatologist, 

drmuk7@gmail.com