What is Arthritis?
Arthritis acts as a catch-all term for pain and swelling in the joints. Arthritis can affect any of the joints in the body, and the risk of arthritis increases with age. While arthritis can appear in many forms, the two most common types include Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the degeneration of the cartilage between the bones causes the bones to grind against each other, wearing them down and causing pain. Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when a disorder causes the body’s immune system to attack the joint lining, causing inflammation and painful swelling within the joint.
What Increases The Risk for Osteoarthritis?
- Old age: The risk of developing osteoarthritis escalates with advancing age, making it more prevalent in older individuals.
- Sex: Women exhibit a higher susceptibility to osteoarthritis than men, increasing the likelihood of its occurrence.
- Obesity: Excess weight amplifies the stress on weight-bearing joints like hips and knees. Additionally, adipose tissue generates proteins that trigger detrimental inflammation within the joints, exacerbating the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Joint injuries: Injuries sustained from sports or accidents can significantly elevate the likelihood of osteoarthritis development. Even seemingly healed old injuries can serve as potential catalysts for osteoarthritis.
- Repeated stress on the joint: Occupations or sports involving repetitive stress on a specific joint heighten the probability of eventual osteoarthritis development in that joint.
- Genetics: Some individuals inherit a genetic predisposition for osteoarthritis, increasing their vulnerability to the condition.
- Bone deformities: Certain individuals may have congenital defects in their cartilage or malformed joints, present from birth, which can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis.
- Certain metabolic diseases: This includes conditions like diabetes, which can elevate the risk of osteoarthritis onset by affecting joint health and function.
Arthritis treatment primarily centers on alleviating symptoms and enhancing joint function. Patients often employ a combination of treatments to determine the most effective approach for their specific needs.
- NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, relieve pain by reducing inflammation.
- Counterirritants: Rubbing ointments that contain menthol or capsaicin can soothe the transmission of pain signals from the joint itself.
- Steroids: Corticosteroids, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation and slow joint damage for temporary relief. Physicians can also inject Corticosteroids directly into the painful joint.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): As Rheumatoid Arthritis results from an auto-immune issue, these drugs will slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, possibly saving the joints and tissues from permanent damage.
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