Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Arthritis - Symptoms,Cause, Treatment

What is Arthritis?

The word arthritis comes from the Greek word called Greekarthron.  It maens  "joint"  Arthritis affects the musculoskeletal system, specifically the joints. It is the main cause of disability among people over fifty-five years of age in industrialized countries. 

Arthritis is a type of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form, Osteoarthritis is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and related autoimmune diseases. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection.

The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is joint pain. Pain is often a constant and may be localized to the joint affected. The pain from arthritis occurs due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, painful joints and fatigue.


The common symptoms of arthritis disorders include varied levels of pain, swelling, joint stiffness and sometimes a constant ache around the joint. Arthritic disorders like lupus and rheumatoid can also affect other organs in the body with a variety of symptoms.

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Decreased aerobic fitness
  • Inability to use the hand or walk
  • Malaise and a feeling of tiredness
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tenderness
  •  Difficulty moving the joint


Cartilage is breakdown due to Arthritis. Cartilage usually protects a joint, allowing it to move smoothly. Cartilage also absorbs shock when pressure is placed on the joint, such as when you walk. Without the normal amount of cartilage, the bones rub together, causing pain, swelling (inflammation), and stiffness.
Joint inflammation may result from:
·                                 An autoimmune disease (the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue)
·                                 Broken bone
·                                 General "wear and tear" on joints
·                                 Infection, usually by bacteria or virus

Types of arthritis
There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis

  1. Rheumatoid arthritis - this is an inflammatory form of arthritis. The synovial membrane is attacked, resulting in swelling and pain. If left untreated the arthritis can lead to deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis is significantly more common in women than men and generally strikes when the patient is aged between 40 and 60. However, children and much older people may also be affected.
  2. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis - It means arthritis that affects a person aged above15 or less. JRA can be various forms of arthritis; it basically means that a child has it.

  1. Infectious Arthritis - It is an infection in the synovial fluid and tissues of a joint. It is typically caused by bacteria, but could also be caused by fungi or viruses. Bacteria, fungi or viruses may spread through the bloodstream from infected tissue nearby, and infect a joint. Most susceptible people are those who already have some form of arthritis and develop an infection that travels in the bloodstream.

  1. Osteoarthritis - Osteoarthritis cartilage loses its elasticity. If the cartilage is stiff it becomes damaged more easily. It acts as a shock absorber, will gradually wear away in some areas. When cartilage becomes damaged tendons and ligaments become stretched, causing pain. Finally the bones may rub against each other causing very severe pain.

  1. Ankylosing spondylitis
  2. Gonococcal arthritis
  3. Gout
  4. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (in children)
  5. Other bacterial infections (nongonococcal bacterial arthritis)
  6. Psoriatic arthritis
  7. Reactive arthritis (Reiter syndrome)
  8. Rheumatoid arthritis (in adults)
  9. Scleroderma
  10. Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)


Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the USA. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. Absenteeism and frequent visits to the physician are common in individuals who have arthritis. Arthritis makes it very difficult for individuals to be physically active and many become home bound. Each year, arthritis results in approx one million hospitalizations and close to 45 million outpatient visits to health care centers

Arthritis can make it very difficult for the individual to remain physically active, contributing to an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol or have heart disease. Individuals with arthritis are also at increased risk of depression which may be related to fear of worsening symptoms.


There is no cure for either rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Treatment options vary depending on the type of arthritis and include physical therapy, lifestyle changes (including exercise and weight control), orthopedic bracing and medications. Joint replacement surgery may be required in eroding forms of arthritis. Medications can help reduce inflammation in the joint which decreases pain. Moreover, by decreasing inflammation, the joint damage may be slowed.

Physical Therapy

In common, studies have shown that physical exercise of the affected joint can have noticeable improvement in terms of long-term pain relief. Furthermore, exercise of the arthritic joint is encouraged to maintain the health of the particular joint and the overall body of the person.

Individuals with arthritis can benefit from both physical and occupational therapy. In arthritis the joints become stiff and the range of movement can be limited. Physical therapy has been shown to significantly improve function, decrease pain, and delay need for surgical intervention in advanced cases. Exercise prescribed by a physical therapist has been shown to be more effective than medications in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Exercise often focuses on improving muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. In some cases, exercises may be designed to train balance. Occupational therapy can teach you how to reduce stress on your joint from daily living activities. Occupation therapy can also teach you how to modify your home and work environment so that you do reduce movements that may worsen your arthritis. There are also assist devices available that can help you drive, getting a bath, dressing and also in housekeeping labors.


Treatment typically begins with medications that have the fewest side effects with further medications being added if insufficiently effective. Treatment depends on the type of the arthritis. The first-line treatment for osteoarthritis is acetaminophen while for inflammatory arthritis it involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

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