What is arthritis? What are its symptoms and its treatment?

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Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints. In a broader sense, it encompasses the conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joints and other connective tissues. It can affect one or multiple joints. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, among which osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common.

Arthritis affects the ability of a person to live an active life. Certain rheumatic conditions can affect the immune system and various internal organs of the body.Rheumatic conditions involve pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Some people with lupus (a long-term autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue) may experience inflammatory arthritis, but some may also have other types of non-inflammatory arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, which are unrelated to lupus. Arthritis is more common among adults (65 years and above), but it can affect people of all ages.

Facts:

  • The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is caused due to wearing down of cartilage at the ends of bones, causing stiffness, accompanied by pain in joints.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, the next most common after osteoarthritis, is caused by the body’s immune system attacking its own tissues.
  • Arthritis can be caused due to injury, infections, abnormal metabolism, genetic makeup, and malfunctioning of the immune system.
  • Physical activity can increase flexibilityand reduce pain in people suffering from arthritis.
  • Treatment involves proper rest, medications, physical therapies, and patient education.
  • Proper treatment can control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain quality of life.
  • Nearly 300,000 babies and children have arthritis or a rheumatic condition.
  • Arthritis occurs more commonly in adults who are obese than in adults who are normal weight or underweight.
  • Arthritis is more common in women (26%) than in men (18%).
  • There are ways to reduce the pain associated with arthritis.

Treatment

Although there’s no cure for arthritis, for many types of arthritis, correct diagnosis helps in treating it successfully.Proper medications and adopting strategies for a healthy lifestyle can help and protect the joints from further damage.

  • medications
  • physical or occupational therapy
  • non-pharmacologic therapies
  • weight loss
  • splints or joint assistive devices
  • patient education and support
  • surgery

Medication

Non-inflammatory types of arthritis( eg.osteoarthritis), are often treated with medications that reduce pain, weight loss if the person is overweight, physical activity, and self-management education.

These treatments can also be used in the case of inflammatory types of arthritis, such as RA, along with anti-inflammatory medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids,disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics.

Commonly used drugs include:

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): these help to reduce both pain and inflammation. NSAIDs including ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Some NSAIDs are available in the form of creams, gels or patches which can be applied to afflicted joints.
  • Analgesics: these reduce pain, but cannot reduce inflammation. Examples includetramadol (Ultram), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and narcotics containing hydrocodone (Lortab,Vicodin) or oxycodone (Oxycontin ,Percocet) .
  • Counterirritants: someointments contain menthol or capsaicin. Rubbing these on the skin over an affected joint can help reducethe pain and discomfort.
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, DMARDs slow or stop the immune system from attacking the joints.These include hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and methotrexate (Trexall).
  • Biologics: used with DMARDs, these are genetically engineered drugs that focus on various protein molecules responsible for immunological response. These include infliximab (Remicade) and etanercept (Enbrel).
  • Corticosteroids: Prednisone(not recommended in the management of osteoarthritis) and cortisone reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.

If you are looking for a joint pain supplement FlexoPlex is one of the great options available in the market . It is a natural dietary supplement that is available without a prescription. It has been described as the most effective way to not only manage joint pain but to reverse some of the joint damage that occurs with age. This product is designed to increase joint mobility.

Natural remedies

A healthful, balanced diet with adequate exercise, avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking, and consumption of excess alcohol and practising yoga regularly can help people with arthritis maintain their overall health. Heat pads, ice pads and cold compress can provide some relief.

Diet

There is no specific diet that treats arthritis, but certain types of food may help in reducing  inflammation.

The following foods are good for people suffering from arthritis:

  • Fatty fish
  • fruits and vegetables (eg.broccoli, spinach, beans etc.)
  • nuts and seeds (eg.walnuts)
  • olive oil
  • whole grains
  • spices like garlic, ginger and turmeric
  • green tea

Foods to avoid

  • Processed and red meats
  • Gluten-containing foods
  • Highly processed foods
  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Foods high in salt

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