What Is Arthritis and How Does It Affect Your Health?

Arthritis is an umbrella term for different types of joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. It occurs in several types and affects millions of people around the world. People of all ages – including children and teens – can have arthritis. However, the risk of this condition is the highest among older people. If you have persistent pain or swelling in or around the joint(s), discuss it with your doctor and take pain-relieving medications using free pill reminder app.

If not managed properly, arthritis can make life tough. While there is no permanent cure for arthritis, several techniques have been developed to keep its types under control, out of which starting treatment at an early stage works the best.

Arthritis can occur because of many reasons. Sometimes it’s in the genes and sometimes it’s because of an underlying medical condition.

What Are the Types of Arthritis?

Arthritis has over 100 types but following are the most common ones:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative arthritis, is the most common type of arthritis. While it can occur in adults of any age, older people are the most affected by it.

OA can be caused by a joint injury suffered in the past, which is why it occurs mostly in older people. The older you are, the frailer your joints and the higher your risk of osteoarthritis.

Here are some other reasons for OA:

  • Dislocated joints
  • Torn cartilage
  • Ligament injuries

Family history and gender may also play a role in OA’s development.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis or RA is a type in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints instead of foreign bacteria and viruses. This causes inflammation that results in thickening of tissues inside of joints, inducing damage in and around the joints.

RA typically affects the joints of hands, wrists, elbows, feet, and ankles in a symmetrical way. Meaning that if one joint gets affected, the other one will become affected, too.

Women aged between 30 and 60 years are affected by it the most. While in men, it often occurs later in life. Family history may or may not increase your odds of having RA because the majority of people with Rheumatoid Arthritis have no family history of the condition.

Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis typically occurs in people with psoriasis — a condition that accelerates the life cycle of skin cells and features red patches on the skin. It can affect any part of the body. Most common symptoms of PA include joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. These symptoms may range from mild to severe based on severity of the condition. No cure for PA exists, and the only way to prevent damage is to manage this condition in the early stages. Without proper management, PA may be disabling.

In some people, it only affects one or a few joints such as a knee or an ankle. While sometimes, the spine or fingers may be the ones affected by it the most.

What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

Though each type of arthritis is characterized by a few unique symptoms, the following ones are common in most forms of arthritis:

  • Pain and limited function of joints
  • Joint inflammation (joint stiffness, swelling, pain, redness, pain)
  • Tenderness of the inflamed joint with or without pain
  • In case of a damaged knee, loss of cartilage with limitation of motion
  • In case of damage joints in a finger or fingers, bone growth and loss of handgrip
  • Damaged weight-bearing joints can result in poor joint function and difficulty in walking

Apart from these, some forms of arthritis may affect various organs of the body instead of joints. Patients with such conditions may experience:

  • Fever
  • Gland swelling (swollen lymph nodes)
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling unwell
  • Problems with lungs, heart, or kidneys

What Causes Arthritis?

Arthritis doesn’t occur because of one particular reason. Different forms can have different causes. Possible causes may include:

  • A joint injury
  • Abnormal metabolism
  • Family history (inheritance)
  • Infections
  • Immune system dysfunction

Most sorts of arthritis occur due to a blend of factors, but some are unpredictable and have no obvious cause behind their development. While family history plays a key role in the development of arthritis, additional factors such as smoking, infection, or a past joint injury may further increase your risk of developing this condition.

Foods that increase inflammation and trigger an immune system response can also lead to arthritis. For instance, diets high in purines such as seafood, red wine, and meats can provoke Gout – an arthritis form which is linked to high levels of uric acid. Talk to your doctor to have a complete list of potentially harmful foods.

What Medications Are Recommended for Arthritis?

Osteoarthritis and other non-inflammatory types are often managed through pain-relievers taken with the help of medicine taking app. On the other hand, inflammatory types can be managed through physical activity, self-management education, and medications that include corticosteroids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs).

The medication will depend on the form of arthritis. Common arthritis medications include:

Analgesics

These are pain relievers but have no effect on inflammatory arthritis. Examples include tramadol (Ultram), acetaminophen (Tylenol), oxycodone (Percocet, Oxycontin), and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab).

NSAIDs

NSAIDs are effective for both pain and inflammation. These medications can be bought over-the-counter as well as through online means. They come as pills, creams, and gels which can be applied to the affected area. Common examples include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

DMARDs

Short for disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, these are used to treat Rheumatoid Arthritis because of their ability to stop the immune system from attacking the joints. Hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), Sulfasalazine (Bactrim, Septra), and Methotrexate (Trexall) are common examples.

Biologics

These are genetically engineered medications that are used with DMARDs. Biologics also keep the immune system from attacking the joints by targeting various protein molecules that trigger the attack. Etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade) are common examples and can be taken using medicine tracker app for maximum effect.

Counterirritants

These contain menthol or capsaicin and come in the form of creams and ointments. Rubbing counterirritants on the skin over a painful joint can significantly reduce pain. Various counterirritants are available both online and on physical pharmacies.

What Are the Risk Factors for Arthritis?

Age. Age is another factor which increases the risk of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout; they all become severe with age.

Gender. Your risk of arthritis can be determined by your gender. Some types occur mostly in men, while some target women. For example, people who have Gout are mostly men, while Rheumatoid Arthritis often occurs in women.

Family history. Family history plays a key role in the development of some forms of arthritis. If you have a grandparent, parent, or siblings with arthritis, you may be more likely to develop this disorder.

Previous joint injury. People who experienced a joint injury in the past are more likely to develop arthritis in that joint later in life.

Obesity. Being obese or overweight puts the joints of your knees, hips, and spine under massive stress. Therefore, obese people have a higher risk of developing this condition.

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