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Arthritis – Causes and Treatments

Commonly referred to as joint-pain, arthritis means inflammation of the joints. A lesser-known fact about arthritis is that there are over 100 types of it, but the two most common ones are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis is mostly caused due to wear and tear around the joints, whereas RA is uncommon and can be caused due to an auto-immune disorder. 


All the joints in our body are protected by a flexible structure around it known as cartilage, and it cushions the joints, absorbs shocks and is responsible for maintaining a smooth range of motion. When this cartilage tissue is reduced around the joints, it causes friction between them, leading to a painful movement that usually triggers osteoarthritis (OA).


While Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), is more often than not, a genetic condition. In this case, one’s immune system itself is responsible for attacking the body, more specifically the synovium, a soft tissue in your joints that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates them. It can eventually destroy both – the cartilage and the bone. 



The most common symptoms exhibited by those suffering from any form of arthritis include:

- Pain

- Reduced range of motion

- Swelling

- Redness

- Stiffness


In the case of RA, one may also experience a lack of appetite, or become anaemic due to a reduction in their RBC count. People who are diagnosed with it have also mentioned their pain is worse in the morning. Arthritis can be diagnosed by visiting a rheumatologist, who uses X-ray, MRI and blood tests to understand and detects the exact kind of arthritis the patient has, based on which they can initiate the treatment.



The primary goal of treating any form of arthritis is to reduce the pain, that one is experiencing and curb any further damage to the joints. Usually, patients are prescribed analgesics like Tylenol for pain management and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen. External aids like creams are also used to block transmission of pain signals from the joints. In the case of RA, immunosuppressants like Prednisone are also recommended. 


In addition to pharmaceutical treatments, people dealing with arthritis also use heating pads and ice packs to manage pain. In some cases, crutches and walking sticks are used to minimize the pressure on sore joints. 



In extreme cases where all of the above methods seem inadequate, and the situation is critical, patients are advised to go into artificial knee replacement surgery. If they are dealing with arthritis of their fingers, then procedures like joint fusion are performed by locking their bones together to restore them.



Even after medical treatments are carried out, it is imminent that patients recovering from surgery or those on medication for this condition should seek regular physiotherapy or chiropractic care, since one of the main results of having arthritis is restricted body movement. With the collective decision of one’s doctor and therapist, a patient who consistently goes to some form of remedial therapy will see a faster recovery than those who won’t. 


Yours in self-care,

Adrian Wilk

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