ARTHRITIS: SYMPTOMS, PREVENTIONS AND TREATMENTS
In simple words, arthritis refers to the damage and wear of joints.
Arthritis begins with mild damage and wear of the cartilage surface which lines the joints. The cartilage begins to wear down with the joint resulting in areas where one bone comes in contact with another bone. A joint surface may flatten out which makes the joint broader and the bone deformed. Eventually, the joint becomes larger, it develops nodules, and the person faces difficulty in bending or straightening completely.
There are different types of arthritis with varying risk factors which exacerbate the condition.
SYMPTOMS OF ARTHRITIS
There is swelling, pain and stiffness in the joints. The joint becomes deformed or enlarged; sometimes it even becomes red and warm. Stiffness in joints is most often experienced in the morning. There is pain during strenuous activities followed by an itchy feeling the other day. In case of hip and back arthritis, it is uncomfortable staying in the same position for a long time. Arthritis pain is mostly due inflammation in the joints. This inflammation arises from irritation in the muscles, tendons and nerves. It also stems from bone to bone contact. People affected with arthritis tend to limp or walk with difficulty because they cannot move their ankles, hips, knees and lower back properly. In some extreme cases, it may require surgery for Total Knee Replacement or Total Hip Replacement.
PREVENTION OF ARTHRITIS
1. CONTROL OBESITY: Overweight puts more pressure on the joints that bear weight, especially the hips, knees and ankles. Obesity can also cause spine to wear quickly. Hence, weight control is often advised to patients with arthritis to prevent further damage.
2. EXERCISE: Regular exercise keeps the joint moving. It lubricates the joints of knees and builds the strength of muscles and tendons.
TREATMENT OF ARTHRITIS
Treatment includes medications, exercises, massage, devices and surgery that help control and improve the joint functioning.
1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which may carry side-effects
2. Analgesic medications
3. Corticosteroid drugs. These drugs are either taken orally or sometimes injected directly into tendon nodules and/or joints.
4. Topical pain-relieving sprays and creams
5. Supplements directly injected into knees to help in the lubrication of joints.
6. Specific drugs for specific inflammatory arthritis
1. Different motion exercises, including stretch of arms, back and legs to regain the flexibility of joints.
2. Strengthening exercises to support joints and build the muscles affected by arthritis
3. Endurance exercises like walking and swimming
In some cases, surgery is recommended, either to make the joints function better, or replace the joints completely.
OTHER SUGGESTIVE METHODS
1. Heat treatment: heating pads, warm bath
2. Cold treatment: ice massage, cold packs
3. Physical therapy like massage to improve the functioning of joints
5. Joint rest (splinting or bracing)
6. Oral nutritional supplements: fish oil, omega-3 supplements and vitamins
7. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): this is the application of mild electric pulses over affected areas of the skin
8. Vitamin D supplements: vitamin D supplements may help people who are at greater risk due to deficiency of vitamin D.