Understanding Arthritis Impacts on Different Bones and Its Targeted Management Strategies.
Nov 02, 2023
Arthritis, a term for debilitating joint disorders, affects millions worldwide. It causes joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or more joints. Recent estimates indicate that approximately 14% of the Indian population visits a doctor annually for arthritis. As the primary cause of disability, it can substantially impact a person's mobility and quality of life.
While arthritis primarily affects the joints, not all joints are affected equally. Often, the nature and severity of symptoms depend on the affected joint. Therefore, it is important to understand how arthritis affects various joints, such as the knees, hips, hands, and spine, differently. Continue reading to learn about arthritis causes, risk factors, and when to see a doctor about different joints. Hope this information proves handy for arthritis patients.
Arthritis - On Overview
Arthritis, derived from the Greek words "arthro" (joint) and "itis" (inflammation), refers to a group of more than 100 disorders that impact the body's joints. Although there are numerous types of arthritis, each with its unique characteristics, they all share a common characteristic: joint inflammation. This inflammation can result in pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced joint mobility, ultimately hindering a person's ability to carry out daily tasks.
Causes / Risk Factors of Arthritis
Arthritis is a complex group of conditions with varying causes depending on the type. However, several factors contribute to the development of arthritis, and understanding these root causes is crucial for early diagnosis and effective treatment.
- For many individuals, the primary cause is simply aging; as we age, the protective cartilage in our joints can begin to deteriorate after decades of use.
- Certain genetic variants, like STAT4, TRAF1/C5, and PTPN22, may increase the likelihood of developing certain forms of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Previous injuries, overuse from repetitive activities such as sports, or jobs requiring heavy lifting can lead to osteoarthritis over time.
- In certain cases, obesity is a significant risk factor due to the additional burden it places on weight-bearing joints.
- Autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis, in which the immune system attacks the body's tissues and causes inflammatory arthritis.
How do different forms of arthritis affect joints differently?
Arthritis comprises an array of conditions, each with its unique characteristics, and their effects on joints can vary considerably. Let's look at how the most common forms of arthritis affect different joints differently:
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of joint-affecting arthritis. Typically, it affects weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, lower back, and fingers. With osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage that cushions the bone ends gradually deteriorates. This results in joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. People with knee pain have difficulty performing daily activities such as climbing stairs. It might cause discomfort when walking. Hand osteoarthritis causes fingers to become swollen, stiff, and painful, making it difficult to grip objects.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
The immune system attacks the synovium - the interior of the joints - in rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease. It typically affects minor joints symmetrically, such as the wrists or knees. The joints become swollen, warm, stiff, and painful. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause permanent joint injury if left untreated. The joint damage can restrict motion and result in deformities such as bent fingers.
The big toe, feet, knees, hands, and wrists are typically affected by gout. It is caused by high levels of uric acid in the circulation. The uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints, causing sudden and severe pain. The joint at the base of the big toe, known as the first metatarsophalangeal joint, is most frequently affected by gout. It causes joint inflammation, swelling, and extreme tenderness.
- Psoriatic Arthritis
Psoriasis can lead to the development of psoriatic arthritis in some people. It can affect any joint but typically affects the joints at the tips of fingers and toes, causing inflammation and discomfort. It may also affect the spinal, shoulder, and hip joints. Frequently, psoriatic arthritis causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling. It can cause joint injury and deformity over time.
- Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
Formerly known as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it is the most prevalent form of arthritis in minors younger than 16. It can affect a single joint or multiple joints, such as the knees, forearms, wrists, ankles, and feet. The joints may be swollen, warm, or stiff. It can limit physical activity and cause growth problems if not correctly treated.
Management Strategies for Arthritis
Effective management of arthritis involves lifestyle modifications and treatments tailored to each individual's condition and symptoms. The main strategies include:
- Be Active
Regular exercise can reduce joint pain and stiffness. Low-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, and water aerobics are suitable options. Additionally, staying active helps maintain a healthy weight.
- Learn Self-Management Skills
Engaging in workshops on arthritis self-management is beneficial for learning how to manage the condition. Joint protection strategies, stress management, medication management, exercise, and nutrition are all taught. Understanding when to see a doctor is also important.
- Manage Your Weight
Being overweight places additional strain on the joints. If overweight, losing weight can help ease symptoms. Maintain a healthy diet.
- Protect Your Joints
Utilize joint protection strategies such as joint braces, canes, and splints. Avoid participating in activities that cause pain. Pace yourself and take breaks.
- Get Support
Consult a support group for arthritis to discuss your experiences. When symptoms worsen, family and friends may be a great source of support. Moreover, seek medical attention right once if your symptoms worsen.
When to See a Doctor for Arthritis
It is essential to visit a doctor if you experience symptoms of arthritis so that they can properly diagnose the condition and recommend an effective course of treatment. Common symptoms requiring medical evaluation include:
- Persistent joint pain or stiffness
- Swelling and tenderness around one or more joints
- Reduced range of motion
- Warmth or redness around affected joints
- Joint deformities, bumps, or growths in or around the joints
- Difficulty performing daily tasks due to joint discomfort
Depending on the kind of arthritis, individual joints might be affected in various ways. Although joint damage cannot be reversed, timely medical care and lifestyle modifications can help alleviate symptoms and prevent further deterioration.
As a prominent healthcare provider, Apollo Diagnostics is outfitted with EQUAS-certified, fully automated devices for accurate diagnosis of arthritis using X-rays, blood tests, and scans. Our error-free reports are available at reasonable prices and promptly. Book your test today or visit the nearest Apollo Diagnostic Center to get your bone density test done!
1. Is arthritis curable?
Although there is no cure for arthritis, numerous treatment options are available to manage symptoms and halt the progression of joint damage. Effective treatment prevents long-term disability.
2. How long does arthritis pain last?
Arthritis symptoms can differ from individual to individual. It may be sporadic or constant. A flare-up can last anywhere from a few days to several months. Effective treatment reduces pain and maximizes pleasant days.
3. Can arthritis affect internal organs?
Although arthritis primarily affects the joints, certain types, such as rheumatoid arthritis, can affect other organs, such as the heart, lungs, and eyes. Immediate treatment is necessary to avoid systemic complications.
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