BY DR. KHOOBSURAT NAJMA
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation of the joints in one or more areas of the body. The symptoms of arthritis usually appear gradually but they may also occur suddenly.
What Causes Arthritis?
There are different causes depending on the type of arthritis. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: this is caused by normal wear and tear throughout life; this natural breakdown of cartilage tissue can be exacerbated by an infection or injury to the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis: In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen.
Who is at risk?
Risk factors for arthritis include:
- Family history
- Age: The risk of many types of arthritis increases with age.
- Gender: Women are more likely than are men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout are men.
- Previous joint injury: People who have injured a joint are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.
- Obesity: Carrying excess weight puts stress on joints, especially knees, hips and spine. Obese people have a higher risk of developing arthritis
What Are the signs of Arthritis?
These include joint pain and stiffness, swelling of the joints, decrease in range of motion of joints or redness of the skin around the joint.
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?
The doctor diagnoses arthritis on the basis of:
- Physical examination
- Laboratory tests: Fluids commonly analyzed include blood, urine and joint fluid.
- Imaging: Imaging scans such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scans are commonly used to assess extend of damage to joints
- Arthroscopy: arthroscopy involves inserting a small, flexible tube called an arthroscope through an incision near the joint. The arthroscope transmits images from inside the joint to a video screen.
How is Arthritis managed?
The main goal of treatment is to reduce pain, prevent any additional damage to the joints and improve joint mobility. Management includes:
Medications: these are given to manage symptoms of arthritis and to improve range of motion.
Surgery: Surgery may be needed to replace the damaged joint with an artificial one.
Exercise: Exercise can help in strengthening the muscles around the affected joint and prevent further damage. Options include stretching exercises, exercises that provide range of motion, low-impact aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling.
Weight loss: Being overweight can increase complications of arthritis and contribute to arthritis pain. Make gradual and permanent lifestyle changes like eating healthy, portion control, avoiding deep fried foods and following an exercise regimen.