Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. It causes severe pain and stiffness, which increases with age. Surprisingly, over 180 million people suffer from Arthritis in India, which is more than people affected by cancer, AIDS or diabetes. Arthritis usually shows symptoms like pain, swelling and tenderness near and around the joints. There are many types of arthritis, but we will be expanding on the two most common ones.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. Also known as the ‘wear and tear’ arthritis, it happens when the cartilage between the joints wears down. This cartilage is a protective layer which provides a cushion to joints and protects them from harmful forces.
Osteoarthritis is mostly seen in joints which come into use more often, like the knees, spine, wrists, hands and hip.
Many speciality hospitals, including Care Hospital Hitech City, have super-specialized departments which cater to such orthopaedic problems.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
The symptoms of Osteoarthritis progress slowly and with time. The symptoms are
- Severe pain in the affected joints, especially while moving.
- Stiffness in the joints, especially after waking up or staying idle for long.
- Tenderness while applying pressure
- Difficulty in movement
- Popping or cracking while moving the joint
- Swelling around the joint
Risk Factor for Osteoarthritis
Factors which increase the probability of having Osteoarthritis include
- Age: It is more common in the older population
- Gender: More common among women
- Obesity: Extra weight and fat put pressure on the joints, increasing the risk
- Injuries to the joints, more commonly due to a sport or accident
- Stress to the joints which is repeated
- Family history of osteoarthritis
- Congenital bone deformities
- Metabolic disorders like diabetes
Diagnosis for Osteoarthritis
After taking a medical history and doing a physical examination, the doctor may recommend the following
- X-Ray – This can show space between joints which are visible if there is a loss of cartilage.
- MRI – Usually advised in complex medical conditions, especially when there are other medical problems involved
- Blood test and joint fluid analysis
Treatment for Osteoarthritis
Treatment for Osteoarthritis includes medical management with painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs and sometimes, antidepressants like Duloxetine.
The doctor may also advise physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Surgical options include Lubrication injections, Cortisone injections, realignment of bones surgically and joint replacement surgery.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease which affects the joints. In this disease, the antibodies from the body attack its cells, causing inflammation, not only to the joints, but also other parts of the body. This inflammation affects the lining of the joints. Erosion of the bones and joint deformity are unfortunate side effects of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
This kind of medical ailments requires expertise from both Orthopedics, as well as, Rheumatology, which is available in many hospitals like Care Hospital Hitech City.
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis
Some of the symptoms are exclusive to the joints. Eventually, as the disease progresses, the infection spreads to the hips, shoulders, knees, ankles and other areas. The symptoms include
- Swelling and joint pain
- Tenderness around the joints
- Stiffness especially after inactivity or after waking up
- Loss of appetite
The symptoms are not limited to joints, but other areas as well. The disease may affect the eyes, lungs, kidney, heart, nerves, blood vessels, marrow, among other parts.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a difficult disease and can ultimately cause joint deformities.
Risk Factors for Rheumatoid Arthritis
The factors which increase the chances of having this disease are
- Women are more commonly affected by this
- More common among Middle age people
- Family history of Rheumatoid arthritis
- Exposure to poisonous substances like silica or asbestos, in large quantities
- Obese people are at a higher risk
Complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis
As the disease is widespread and can affect many organs and body parts, the list of complications also increases. Rheumatoid arthritis further causes diseases like Osteoporosis, Dry eyes, Carpal tunnel syndrome, lung and heart problems, Lymphomas, among others. Rheumatoid arthritis also increases the risk of getting other infections due to poor immunity.
Diagnosis for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diagnosing the disease can be a little tricky in the initial stages as the symptoms look similar to those of other diseases.
- A specialist looks into the movement and strength of the joints, does a physical examination and recommends blood tests.
- The specialist also adds in a few imaging tests like X-ray, MRI and ultrasound, to confirm and look into the severity of the disease.
Treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis
A specialist recommends medications depending on the severity of the diseases, as well as its symptoms. Medications include painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs like NSAIDs, biologic agents, and disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.
The doctor may also recommend physical and occupational therapy.
Surgical interventions are advised to help restore the function of joints in cases where medications do not work. These surgeries include tendon repair, joint fusion, and joint replacements.