Arthritis (from Greek arthro-, joint + -itis, inflammation; plural: arthritides) is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints.
There are over 100 different forms of arthritis. The most common form, osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease) is a result of trauma to the joint, infection of the joint, or age. Other arthritis forms are rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and related autoimmune diseases. Septic arthritis is caused by joint infection.
The major complaint by individuals who have arthritis is joint pain. Pain is often a constant and may be localized to the joint affected. The pain from arthritis occurs due to inflammation that occurs around the joint, damage to the joint from disease, daily wear and tear of joint, muscle strains caused by forceful movements against stiff, painful joints and fatigue.
Primary forms of arthritis:
Gout and pseudo-gout
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
Secondary to other diseases:
Wegener's granulomatosis (and many other vasculitis syndromes)
Familial Mediterranean fever
Hyperimmunoglobulinemia D with recurrent fever
TNF receptor associated periodic syndrome
Inflammatory bowel disease (Including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis)
An undifferentiated arthritis is an arthritis that does not fit into well-known clinical disease categories, possibly being an early stage of a definite rheumatic disease.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It can affect both the larger and the smaller joints of the body, including the hands, feet, back, hip or knee. The disease is essentially one acquired from daily wear and tear of the joint, however, osteoarthritis can also occur as a result of injury. Osteoarthritis begins in the cartilage and eventually leads to the two opposing bones eroding into each other. Initially, the condition starts with minor pain while walking but soon the pain can be continuous and even occur at night. The pain can be debilitating and prevent one from doing some activities. Osteoarthritis typically affects the weight bearing joints such as the back, spine, and pelvis. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis is most commonly a disease of the elderly. More than 30 percent of females have some degree of osteoarthritis by age 65. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include: prior joint trauma, obesity, sedentary lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, cannot be cured but one can prevent the condition from worsening. Weight loss is the key to improving symptoms and preventing progression. Physical therapy to strengthen muscles and joints is very helpful. Pain medications are widely required by individuals with osteoarthritis. When the disease is far advanced and the pain is continuous, surgery may be an option. Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, joint replacement does help many individuals with osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder in which, for some unknown reason, the body's own immune system starts to attack body tissues. The attack is not only directed at the joint but to many other parts of the body. In rheumatoid arthritis, most damage occurs to the joint lining and cartilage which eventually results in erosion of two opposing bones. Rheumatoid arthritis affects joints in the fingers, wrists, knees and elbows. The disease is symmetrical and can lead to severe deformity in a few years if not treated. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs mostly in people aged 20 and above. In children, the disorder can present with a skin rash, fever, pain, disability, and limitations in daily activities. No one knows why rheumatoid arthritis occurs and all treatments are focused on easing the symptoms. With earlier diagnosis and aggressive treatment, many individuals can lead a decent quality of life. The drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis range from corticosteroids to monoclonal antibodies given intravenously. The latest drugs like Remicade can significantly improve quality of life in the short term. In rare cases, surgery may be required to replace joints but there is no cure for the illness.
This is a common collagen vascular disorder that can be present with severe arthritis. Other features of lupus include a skin rash, extreme photosensitivity, hair loss, kidney problems, emotional lability, lung fibrosis and constant joint pain.
Gout is caused by deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint, causing inflammation. There is also an uncommon form of gouty arthritis caused by the formation of rhomboid crystals of calcium pyrophosphate known as pseudogout. In the early stages, the gouty arthritis usually occur in one joint, but with time, it can occur in many joints and be quite crippling. The joints in gout can often become swollen and lose function
sign and symptoms
Regardless of the type of arthritis, the common symptoms for all arthritis disorders include varied levels of pain, swelling, joint stiffness and sometimes a constant ache around the joint(s). Arthritic disorders like lupus and rheumatoid can also affect other organs in the body with a variety of symptoms.
Inability to use the hand or walk
Malaise and a feeling of tiredness
Muscle aches and pains
Difficulty moving the joint
It is common in advanced arthritis for significant secondary changes to occur. For example, in someone who has limited their physical activity:
Loss of flexibility
Decreased aerobic fitness
These changes can also impact on life and social roles, such as community involvement.
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the USA. More than 20 million individuals with arthritis have severe limitations in function on a daily basis. Absenteeism and frequent visits to the physician are common in individuals who have arthritis. Arthritis makes it very difficult for individuals to be physically active and soon become home bound.
It is estimated that the total cost of arthritis cases is close to $100 billion of which nearly 50% accounts from lost earnings. Each year, arthritis results in nearly 1 million hospitalizations and close to 45 million outpatient visits to health care centers.
Arthritis makes it very difficult for the individual to remain physically active. Many individuals who have arthritis also suffer from obesity, high cholesterol or have heart disease. Individuals with arthritis also become depressed and have fear of worsening symptoms.
Diagnosis is made by clinical examination from an appropriate health professional, and may be supported by other tests such as radiology and blood tests, depending on the type of suspected arthritis. All arthritides potentially feature pain. Pain patterns may differ depending on the arthritides and the location. Rheumatoid arthritis is generally worse in the morning and associated with stiffness; in the early stages, patients often have no symptoms after a morning shower. Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, tends to be worse after exercise. In the aged and children, pain might not be the main presenting feature; the aged patient simply moves less, the infantile patient refuses to use the affected limb.
Elements of the history of the disorder guide diagnosis. Important features are speed and time of onset, pattern of joint involvement, symmetry of symptoms, early morning stiffness, tenderness, gelling or locking with inactivity, aggravating and relieving factors, and other systemic symptoms. Physical examination may confirm the diagnosis, or may indicate systemic disease. Radiographs are often used to follow progression or help assess severity.
There is no cure for either rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. Treatment options vary depending on the type of arthritis and include physical therapy, lifestyle changes (including exercise and weight control), orthopedic bracing, medications. Joint replacement surgery may be required in eroding forms of arthritis. Medications can help reduce inflammation in the joint which decreases pain. Moreover, by decreasing inflammation, the joint damage may be slowed.
In general, studies have shown that physical exercise of the affected joint can have noticeable improvement in terms of long-term pain relief. Furthermore, exercise of the arthritic joint is encouraged to maintain the health of the particular joint and the overall body of the person.
Individuals with arthritis can benefit from both physical and occupational therapy. In arthritis the joints become stiff and the range of movement can be limited. Physical therapy has been shown to significantly improve function, decrease pain, and delay need for surgical intervention in advanced cases. Exercise prescribed by a physical therapist has been shown to be more effective than medications in treating osteoarthritis of the knee. Exercise often focusses on improving muscle strength, endurance and flexibility. In some cases, exercises may be designed to train balance. Occupational therapy can teach you how to reduce stress on your joint from daily living activities. Occupation therapy can also teach you how to modify your home and work environment so that you do reduce movements that may worsen your arthritis. There are also assist devices available that can help you drive, getting a bath, dressing and also in housekeeping labors.
Occupational therapy can help you do everyday activities without worsening pain or causing joint damage. The techniques can help you distribute pressures to minimize stress on any one joint. Ways to accomplish daily living tasks are made easier.
Treatment typically begins with medications that have the fewest side effects with further medications being added if insufficiently effective.Treatment depends on the type of the arthritis. The first-line treatment for osteoarthritis is acetaminophen while for inflammatory arthritis it involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.