Arthritis : Causes, Symptoms, Types and Treatment

What is Arthritis

Inflammation of joints accompanied with pain, stiffness and swelling are the main characteristics of Arthritis. There are different forms of arthritis and every type has different symptoms and method of treatment. Most forms of arthritis are chronic developed due to prolonged arthritis condition.

Almost all body parts can be attacked by arthritis. You can feel and even see changes like swelling, joint redness and warmth in certain forms of arthritis. Though very bad, pain and swelling last for shorter duration in some forms of arthritis. There are some forms of arthritis which have comparatively less bothering symptoms. However, this type of arthritis also damage joints gradually.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the most commons diseases in America. Millions of people in United States suffer from arthritis. Usually osteoarthritis, gout and rheumatoid forms of arthritis are found in older people.

  • Osteoarthritis: It is most common form of arthritis especially in older people. This is caused due to ragging and wearing away of cartilage. Bones are padded in joints by tissues called cartilage. Rubbing of bones with each other takes places due to wearing away of the cartilage. This condition is more prominent in severe cases of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis attacks neck, lower back, hands and large weight bearing joints like hip and knees.

Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

The symptoms of osteoarthritis vary from mild pain and stiffness of joints with activities like bending and walking, that comes and goes to severe stooping pain that can last even when you are resting or trying to sleep. At times, you may experience feeling of stiff joints after you haven’t move for certain time such as after riding in a vehicle. However, such stiffness vanishes after you move the joint. If your knees, back or hip is affected you may face difficulty in moving joints and at times even disability.

Causes of Osteoarthritis

Growing age is considered as main factor that increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis. The cause depends on the body organ affected. Osteoarthritis in knees is associated with overweight condition, osteoarthritis of hands and hips can be inherited. Overuse or injuries can cause osteoarthritis in hands, hip and knee joints.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: It is an autoimmune disease. It is a condition when your body attacks the lining of a joint, in a way it does to protect you from disease or injury. You must have seen that finger becomes inflamed when you had splinter in your finger. Likewise inflammation of joints is caused due to rheumatoid arthritis. Such inflammation lasts for hours together. Rheumatoid arthritis can attack multiple body parts at a time as a result you may not be able to move the joint. People suffering from this form of arthritis feel tired and may run a fever. Though more common in women and older people, rheumatoid arthritis can develop in people of any age.

Almost all body joints can get affected by the rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the common sites are fingers, shoulders, wrists, hips, ankles, knees, elbow, neck and feet. When one has rheumatoid arthritis on joint of one body side, the same joint on other side of the body has the possibility of having rheumatoid arthritis. Apart from damaging/destroying the joints, rheumatoid arthritis can even attack other body organs like muscles, heart, eyes, nervous system and blood vessels.

  • Gout: It is considered as the most painful type of arthritis. Gout starts with the formation of uric acid crystals in the joint spaces or connective tissue. Uric acid deposits lead to pain, stiffness, heat, swelling and redness of joint. Gout normally follow intake of rich foods like dried beans, shellfish, peas, liver, gravy or anchovies. Gout condition can worsen with use of alcohol, certain medications like blood pressure medications (specifically in older people) or being overweight.

Apart from affecting joints like elbow, ankle, wrist, toe, hand, knee etc gout can create swelling in the skin. Such swelling may cause skin to pull tightly around the joint which results in affected area becoming tender and purple or red. You may have to undergo x-ray and blood tests to confirm your gout. The doctor may examine fluid from joint, taken when you had attack

Reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, arthritis of temporomandibular joint and psoriatic arthritis are other forms of arthritis.

  • Joint pain that last for long period
  • Stiffness and/or swelling of joint
  • Pain or tenderness felt on touching joint
  • Difficulty in joint movement or problems using joint
  • Redness and warmth in joint

If you have one or more than one of the above symptoms that last for more than fortnight, you must consult your health care provider or a rheumatologist.