There is a general misconception that arthritis is an age-related medical condition that afflicts only the senior citizens or the elderly. It may be true with osteoarthritis, the most common type of joint disorder that usually affects adults of both sexes in their middle age. But what most people don’t understand is that there are other types or causes of arthritis.
Arthritis, also known as joint inflammation, is defined as an inflammation of one or more joints and involves the breakdown of cartilage resulting in pain, swelling, and limited movement.
Cartilage is responsible for protecting the joints and serves as a shock absorber when pressure is placed on the joint during walking or running. It allows for the smooth movement of our limbs. Without cartilage, the bones will rub together and can cause pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness. Doctors usually prescribe arthritis pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs to help alleviate the pain.
Arthritis, or joint inflammation, can be due to the following causes:
Infections that are usually caused by bacteria or viruses;
An autoimmune disease (the body attacks itself because the immune system believes a body part is foreign); and
General “wear and tear” on joints.
Generally, as soon as the injury heals, the inflammation disappears. The infection is treated and the disease is cured. However, there are some injuries and diseases wherein the inflammation remains stubbornly and continuously causing pain that may lead to deformity. This condition is known as chronic arthritis.
People suffering from arthritis experience the following symptoms:
Stiffness, especially in the morning
Warmth around a joint
Redness of the skin around a joint
Reduced ability to move the joint
Arthritis is a condition that can occur in men and women of all ages. Other types of arthritis include:
Rheumatoid arthritis (in adults)
Osteoarthritis ( middle age and above )
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
Reiter’s syndrome (reactive arthritis)
Adult Still’s disease
Other bacterial infections (non-gonococcal bacterial arthritis)
Tertiary Lyme disease (the late stage)
Fungal infections such as blastomycosis
Osteoarthritis, being the most common type, is a chronic disease which causes the cartilage between the bone joints to deteriorate and may cause painful sensation and/or stiffness. New pieces of bones, called bone spurs, may grow around the joints as a result of osteoarthritis. Until now, there is no known reason yet as to the cause of osteoarthritis but it is generally being associated with aging. However, factors such as metabolism and genes can play a role in its development.
There are many factors to consider before your doctor can prescribe arthritis pain relief treatment plan such as the particular cause of arthritis, affected joints, severity of arthritis, and how the condition affects your daily activities. Age and occupation will also be taken into consideration.
Eliminating the underlying cause of the arthritis is one of the goals for treating arthritis. However, not all cause are curable like in the cases of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Relieving pain and discomfort as well as prevention from further damage becomes the focus.
Lifestyle changes and exercise can greatly help in improving the condition of those suffering from arthritis. Medications such as arthritis pain relief and anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken in addition to exercise and lifestyle changes.