Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment
Arthritis is a complex disease that could affect people at any stage of their life. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of the disease. They have different causes and effects on the body but they do in general share common symptoms such as pain and stiffness in the joints.
Osteoarthritis is chronic disorder commonly found in elderly people and basically develops as a result of the continuous wearing of the cartilage in the joints. Cartilage is the smooth, elastic tissue that covers the ends of the bones. It provides a smooth surface for bones to slide against one another and allowing for easy movement. When enough of this tissue has worn away the rough surface of the bones rub together, causing pain, stiffness and swelling in and around the joint.
Osteoarthritis usually affects weight-bearing joints such as hips and knees. Although commonly occurs later on in life it can also result from direct injury to the joint in which case it is referred as post-traumatic arthritis. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disorder with no known cure. It therefore requires a comprehensive program that combines medical, and social, support for patients.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects the connective tissues of the entire body. It can attack at any age but usually occurs between the ages of thirty and forty.
The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not clear. It is a progressive condition and destroys the cartilage and tissues in and around the joints and often the bone surfaces themselves. Initially the synovium, a thin membrane lining the joint, becomes inflamed. The inflammation gradually destroys and fuse together creating stiffening and permanent damage.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain in the joints, swelling, heat and fatigue. These symptoms often disappear only to recur at a later date. If left untreated may cause damage to the heart, lungs, nerves and eyes. Women are at a greater risk although the reasons for this are unclear. The goals of treatment for arthritis are to reduce pain and discomfort, prevent loss of joint function, and maintain active life.
The most effective treatment for arthritis consists of drug therapy, exercise and in some cases surgery. It is critical to maintain mobility in arthritic joints. Treatment for arthritis should begin early after diagnosis to prevent permanent damage. Medication together with moderate daily exercise such as swimming, walking, physical therapy and massage are of great benefit to arthritic conditions. In severe cases of either form surgery to implant artificial joints may required.
The type of drugs administered for arthritis will depend on the type of arthritis and the needs of the person affected. Drug treatment is usually aimed in decreasing the inflammatory symptoms. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are three types of drugs most commonly administered. Some nutritional supplements such as Glucosamine Sulfate, Chondroitin Sulfate, and Vitamin C taken with Vitamin D have been reported to be of benefit in the treatment of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and joint inflammation.
In conclusion, arthritis is a very common but complex condition that affects millions of people. There are at least 100 types of arthritis with the most common types being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis occurs when the cartilage and the synovium in the joints is destroyed.
Common treatments include drug therapy, exercise, physical therapy massage and supplements. Arthritis sufferers share common symptoms persistent joint pain and stiffness. For a qualified opinion on treatments make an appointment with your doctor or health care provider.
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