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Arthritis Relief | Arthritis at a glance | The ABCs of arthritis
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In general, arthritis is a disease of the joints and cartilages. To have an understanding of arthritis, you must understand cartilages and joints.
Arthritis Relief | Understanding What Joints Are?
If you want to understand the problems associated with your joints, you need to know what it is and how it functions. What is a joint? A joint is a place in the body where two or more bones meet such as the shoulder or knee. We have over two hundred six bones in our body and each of them is connected with each other with over one hundred fifty joints.
This fact alone provides us amazing flexibility as well as range of motion. The area between the ends of bones allows them from grinding with each other and wearing down with each other. The joint is wrapped by a capsule which has a special lining called the synovium or synovial membrane. This produces a glossy and slippery liquid called synovial fluid which fills the spaces in between the ends of the bones.
Bones are also essential for the understanding of joints since they are the very things connected by them. Bones are practically living tissues which are porous and very hard. It has nerves and a blood supply that is regularly rebuilt and provides adequate support to our body’s structure. Cartilages too are essential parts of the body. They are the very things that form like a cap at the end of every bone.
It is tough and slick and rubbery. It is 8 times as slippery as ice and absorbs more shock than tire or car springs. Thus, it is indeed a fact that the cartilage is the ultimate cushion of the joints and bones. It also provides smooth movement to the bones. Cartilages are very much important for our joints to function effectively especially when it comes to bearing weight just like the knee. Our cartilage is made up of sixty five percent to eighty five percent water.
Tendon are what attach the muscles to the bones. These are fibrous and flexible tissues. They also help providing stability to the joints. Ligaments too are important aspects to discuss since they are the ones that bind joints together. The bursae are what supplement some joints. These are tiny sacs that are filled with fluid and these aids in cushioning the joints to minimize friction.
Arthritis happens when any of the parts mentioned above do not function well or are not produced adequately. Arthritis happens when our body’s joints are swollen or are inflamed. This lead to the breakdown of a cartilage in the affected joint. When a cartilage breaks down in joints, the end of both bones rub together producing pain and leading to stiffness and swelling. This is why anyone who suspects to have joint paint has to go to the doctor immediately in order for the symptoms to be treated and managed well.
Arthritis Relief | What are cartilages?
Cartilage is a slippery tissue that layers the bones in the body and a cushion in the joint that protects the joint from the pressure and the shock of movement making the movement painless.
Arthritis Relief | What is arthritis?
Most of the time, arthritis creeps up on us. Initially, you may feel stiffness in your joints, especially if the weather is cold or it has been raining.
If you are reading this article you may suspect that you may have arthritis. Your joints may feel stiff, and your muscles ache. You may find yourself unable to do simple everyday tasks without a little discomfort.
Arthritis Relief | There are about 200 different musculoskeletal conditions, which fall into 5 main groups:
This is a condition where your body’s immune system produces inflammation that causes joints to become swollen and damaged. This can often occurs for no obvious reason. It can then affect ligaments surrounding the swollen joint.
For example, in osteoarthritis, the inflammation arises because the articular cartilage on the ends of bones has worn away. In rheumatoid arthritis, the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of a systemic disease. Inflammatory arthritis stiffness and pain usually appears first thing in the morning and after sitting still for a while. This distinguishes it from degenerative arthritis, in which the pain worsens at the end of the day and with activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect people of all ages. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known. While rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic illness, meaning it can last for years, patients may experience long periods without symptoms. However, rheumatoid arthritis is typically a progressive illness that has the potential to cause joint destruction and functional disability.
Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
This type of arthritis is caused by inflammation, breakdown, and eventual loss of the cartilage of the joints. The cartilage, which covers the ends of the bones, becomes damaged. The bone underneath then tries to repair this damage but sometimes overgrows, altering the shape of your joint.
Degenerative arthritis is the most common form of arthritis, usually affecting the hands, feet, spine, and large weight-bearing joints, such as the hips and knees. It is more common in older people.
Degenerative arthritis is also known as osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease.
Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain
This type of arthritis defines pain felt in the muscles or soft tissues supporting your joints, including the bursa. This type of pain often affects one particular part of your body following an injury or overuse, for example tennis elbow. Sometimes the pain is more widespread and, if associated with other symptoms, could be diagnosed as fibromyalgia. Often the causes of these symptoms are poorly understood.
Muscle and ligament, and other soft-tissue pain, or musculoskeletal pain, is a leading cause of chronic disability. It can be caused by injury or inflammation due to sports, work or common everyday activities, osteoarthritis, tendonitis and nerve irritation or inflammation.
Back pain is a common complaint affecting most of us at some point in our lives. Back pain itself is not usually a sign of arthritis and is often a short-term problem. However, long-term back pain may have a complex cause such as organ problems; known as "referred pain". Sometimes there is a specific cause such as osteoarthritis (or spondylosis when it occurs in the spine), a ‘slipped’ disc, or osteoporosis. In most cases you can not identify the exact cause of the pain; this is known as ‘non-specific’ or simple back pain.
Connective tissue disease (CTD)
Connective tissue disease (CTD) affects the tissues that support, bind or separate your other body tissues and organs. This includes tendons, ligaments and cartilage. It may affect your joints but muscles, lungs, skin and kidneys can also be affected. You may therefore feel a range of other symptoms besides painful joints. The disease can affect many organs.
The specific causes of most CTD are not known. However, there are genetic patterns that are considered to increase the risk for developing connective tissue diseases. It is likely that a combination of genetic risks and environmental factors are necessary for the development of connective tissue disease.
If you suspect that you may have arthritis, it is essential that you seek a medical diagnosis to determine whether you do have arthritis, and if so, what type of arthritis you may have in order to receive the correct treatment.
Arthritis Relief | What causes arthritis?
When the cartilage is broken down or the joints in the body are inflamed, arthritis occurs. When the cartilage is worn or breaks down, the bones begin to hit one another, rubbing together without the protective cartilage resulting in stiffness, swelling and pain.
Two most common types of arthritis
■1) Osteoarthritis : Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis among adults living with arthritis. It is a form of arthritis that is often a result of wear and tear of the joints that begin to wear out as a person ages. The disease may also be a result of an injury. The most common places on the body for osteoarthritis to strike are in the hands, hips and knees. The condition causes the joints to thicken and ache. The joint tissues may become strained and cause more pain.
■2) Rheumatoid arthritis : Rheumatoid arthritis is a result of a poor immune system. The immune system is responsible for helping to protect the body against infection. The immune system begins to attack the body’s healthy tissues, causing an inflammation and pain in the joint. The disease can also affect other body parts such as the eyes, nerves, blood vessels and heart.
Arthritis Relief | Signs and symptoms of arthritis
Although there are over 100 types of arthritis, there are symptoms that are common in all forms such as:
■Redness and warmth in a joint
■Difficulty when moving or using a joint normally
■Recurring or constant pain and/or tenderness in a joint
■Redness and warmth of the skin surrounding the joint
■Limited use of a joint
■Stiffness around the joints that lasts for at least an hour in the early morning
■Joint swells or enlarges
■Joint feels like it will not support the weight of the body or is not stable
Arthritis Relief | Different types of arthritis can cause a wide range of symptoms.
With inflammatory arthritis there is likely to be more swelling in your joints and varying levels of pain. If you have a rheumatic disease you may experience tiredness, loss of weight, mild fevers and skin rashes.
It is common to experience aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time without this meaning you have arthritis, particularly if you take part in strenuous physical activities. So how can you distinguish the early signs of arthritis from ‘normal’ pain and stiffness?
If the pain develops after a spell of unusual exercise or activity you may have just overdone it a bit, and the pain should ease within a few days. However, if the pain does not ease you should always consult medical advice.
The earlier you get diagnosed the better, so seek advice from your doctor if any of the following apply to you:
■The pain is not linked to an injury and/or persists for longer than a week.
■The joint has become swollen, and is not linked to an injury.
■You also feel unwell or have a fever.
■You are unable to do your everyday tasks due to joint or muscle pain.
■Taking pain killers, applying heat and trying to stay active for a day or so has not helped
ease the pain or stiffness.
■You experience swelling, stiffness or a painful ‘squeeze’ in your joints.
There is no cure for arthritis but there are a number of treatments that can help slow down the condition’s progress. Medication can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. Medication can include:
■non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
■disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
It may be that you are referred to see a physiotherapist or advised to undertake regular excerise such as swimming. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended such as:
■arthroplasty (joint replacement)
■arthodesis (joint fusion)
■osteotomy (where a bone is cut and re-aligned)
With rheumatoid arthritis other signs may occur as well. If you are experiencing pain or concern it is important to visit your doctor. However, prior to you visit, ask yourself the below questions:
■What medicine/s are you taking?
■Does your family have a history of any type arthritis or other rheumatic disease?
■Have you had any accidents or illnesses that may account for the pain you are
■Does activity make the better or worse?
■What were you doing when you first became aware of the pain?
■How long does the pain last?
■When does the pain occur?
■Is the pain in one or more joints?
By answering the above questions you will help your doctor to better diagnose your condition.
Arthritis Relief | How is arthritis diagnosed?