Introduction to arthritis
Arthritis can be simply defined as inflammation of joints, The term arthritis refers to “inflammation of joints that can affect one or multiple joints” or “swelling and tenderness of one or more joints is termed as arthritis”. Arthritis is more common in adults who are above the age of 65, but also found in young children. Moreover the survey revealed that it is more common in women than in men especially in people with overweight.
The history of arthritis is too old. Also, arthritis was discovered in dinosaurs, while in humans the first known traces of arthritis date back to 4500 BC. It is also reported that prehistoric people make complaints about the ailments, which later on termed as arthritis. Other evidence of arthritis found from ancient Egyptian mummies.
Classification of arthritis
Joint pain is quite common in this disease. Arthritis is not a single disease, but it consists of more than 100 types of causes and treatment plans. Arthritis can be classified as follows:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Thumb arthritis
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
In the united states, arthritis is the most common cause of disability. Severe limitations in functions of more than 20 million individuals. Due to arthritis, some people become homebound and some people become physically less active. Arthritis decreases mobility and increases the risk of depression. Moreover, arthritis contributes to an increased risk of obesity, high cholesterol levels, and more chance of getting heart disease.
The most common symptom of arthritis is pain, which is a prominent feature of all types of arthritis. Disorders associated with arthritis like lupus have a tendency to affects other organs of the body with a variety of symptoms. These symptoms are as follows:
- Stiffness of joint
- Inability to move hand or feet
- Weight loss
- Swelling of joints
- Itching around the joints
- Muscular pain
Arthritis is also associated with some secondary changes like:
- Loss of aerobic fitness
- Loss of muscle flexibility
- Muscle weakness
A health care professional makes a diagnosis of arthritis by clinical examinations and patient history also reveals a guide towards diagnosis. Pain is the more common feature of arthritis but usually, patients do not show any symptoms at the early stage of arthritis. Other features such as:
- Intensity of pain
- Time of onset of pain
- The pattern of joint involvement
- Early morning stiffness
- Extent of inactivity
- Elevating and relieving factors
- Other systemic symptoms
Medical test for diagnostic procedures includes
- Blood tests
Causes of arthritis:
Arthritis is classified into several types depending upon its cause and symptoms but most commonly arthritis is caused by a reduced amount of cartilage. Cartilage is a connective tissue that surrounds the joint to reduce fiction between joins as well as to absorb pressure and shock. Reduce the amount of cartilage leads to arthritis. Osteoarthritis which is the most common type of arthritis is caused by normal wear and tear of tissue or due to any infection or injury to the joint. Whereas another common type of arthritis I.e. rheumatoid arthritis is caused by the immunological disorder. The immune system attacks the soft tissue named synovium responsible for nourishment and lubrication of joints. The exact reason for immune system hyperactivity is still unknown.
Treatment of arthritis:
Studies have revealed that physical exercise helps to give long term relief. Moreover exercise of arthritic joint helps to rehylate the normal health of overall joint. Physical therapy helps to reduce the stiffness of joint which is the characteristic feature of arthritis as well improves function and motility of joint . Other objectives of physical therapy induced exercise is to increase muscle strength and flexibility.
In association with physical therapy , occupational therapy is also used to provide assistance in movement and other activities. Individuals living with arthritis can also be treated with assistive technology which is a tool to aid arthritis disability by improving the use of damaged body part and minimizing the physical barrier. Assistive technology devices are typically used after amputation to help the patients living with arthritis.
There is a long list of medications that are used for treatment of arthritis but treatment begins with the medications with fewer side effects. Medications highly depend on type and severity of arthritis like for osteoarthritis, the first line medication is acetaminophen, while for rheumatoid arthritis the first line medications is NSAIDs I.e. ibuprofen . In case of severe osteoarthritis . corticosteroids injections are used through inter articular route to provide relief.
In general the medications of arthritis involves pain relieve and anti inflammatory drugs . In case of rheumatoid arthritis treatments plans to minimize the progression of Rheumatoid arthritis by modulation the immune response to prevent further destruction in bones and joints.
Rheumasurdical interventions have been adopted and incorporated to provide long term relief in arthritis. This has been in practice since 1950. However, surgery is not an alternative to medications and physical therapy.
Alternative treatments plans:
Alternative treatment plans for arthritis are somehow different from the conventional ones and the main objective of such treatment plans is to use painless technologies for long term relief. Such alternative treatment plans involves
- Low level laser therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
- Pulse electromagnet field therapy
Living with arthritis
Living with arthritis is difficult, and somehow individuals who are living with arthritis face difficulty in performing their everyday tasks . Movement becomes less and painful . Physical activeness also gets reduced to some extent that overall influence the social and work life but there are some life style modifications mandatory for arthritis patients. Following these recommendations will make individuals living with arthritis more active and less irritated during daily life activities.
- Eat balanced and health diet full of fresh vegetables, fruits , starchy foods and dairy products
- In case of individuals with obesity, losing weight will definitely works to minimize the symptoms of arthritis due to less stress on joints and bones
- Doing exercise with arthritis is painful but still recommended to keep your body active and maintain the muscle mass and strength
- Joint care is mandatory by reducing stress on joints and avoid to carry heavy loads .
- Do not continue your sitting posture for too long and try to change posture while sitting or take short breaks and move around instead of sticking to same position
- In order to perform household chores smoothly keep you daily life items within easy access and use handrail to get up & down the stairs.
Arthritis is the most common disease of joints associated with pain, inflammation, and restricted movements. It is more commonly found in elder people that may worsen due to several factors and reasons. It is along with term disease but symptomatic treatment can provide immediate relief. In case of more severe and unbearable pain, it is mandatory to consult with professional bodies and specialists for expert advice and recommendations.
A student of Pharm D from University of Karachi. She has keen interest in all the attributes towards pharmacy especially community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy with an objective to make medications sound and safe. She loves to provide information about Pharmaceutical Analysis and Pharmacology in a best way so people with no medical background can understand.