CHRONIC ILLNESSES AND THEIR SYMPTOMS: ARTHRITIS
In this instalment for our blog series titled Chronic illnesses and their symptoms we look at Arthritis. Arthritis is a common disorder that affects your joints, the tissues around them and other connective tissues. It can cause pain and inflammation, making it difficult to move or stay active.
The word “arthritis” means “joint inflammation.” However, inflammation may also affect the tendons and ligaments surrounding the joint. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly and may impair a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks.
There are also a lot of types of Arthritis however, the most common types include:
Osteoarthritis, or “wear and tear” arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. It’s the most common form of arthritis.
Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine (usually your lower back).
Juvenile arthritis (JA), a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis (autoimmune disorder that causes skin irritation).
Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.
Arthritis is most common in the following areas of the body; feet, hands, hips, knees and lower back. Different types of arthritis have different causes. For instance, gout is the result of too much uric acid in your body. But for other types of arthritis, the exact cause is unknown. You may develop arthritis if you: Have a family history of arthritis. Have a job or play a sport that puts repeated stress on your joints. Have certain autoimmune diseases or viral infections.
Finally, different types of arthritis have different symptoms. They can be mild in some people and severe in others. Joint discomfort might come and go, or it could stay constant. Common symptoms include:
Pain: Pain from arthritis can be constant, or it may come and go. It may affect only one part or be felt in many parts of the body.
Redness: joints can turn red to show that one has arthritis. As such, watch out for any redness on your joints.
Stiffness: Stiffness is a typical symptom. With some types, this is most likely upon waking up in the morning, after sitting at a desk, or after sitting in a car for a long time. With other types, stiffness may occur after exercise, or it may be persistent.
Swelling: In some types of arthritis, the skin over the affected joint becomes red and swollen and feels warm to the touch.
It’s important to see a doctor if you get these and any new symptoms so as to protect your health.
There’s no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help you manage the condition. Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of the arthritis, its symptoms and your overall health. Medication will depend on the type of Arthritis that one has. Natural remedies also help a great deal. A healthful, balanced diet, along with appropriate exercise and avoidance of smoking and drinking too much alcohol can help people with arthritis maintain their overall health and reduce symptom severity. One also has to remain careful and vigilant with their diet.
Carteron, N. (2023). What are the causes and types of arthritis? (Online). Available at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7621
Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Arthritis. (Online). Available at: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12061-arthritis