Arthritis Disease – Types, Causes, Symptoms, Test & Prevention

Arthritis— a disease that can make your joints painful. Do you have any such condition? If Yes, it might or might not be a case of arthritis. 

So, in this post, we explain (in full detail) what arthritis is and how it is different from regular joint pain. In addition, we also state the various types of arthritis, its causes, sign and symptoms, diagnosis test, treatment, and also how you can prevent it from happening.

So, without any further delay, let’s roll.

What is Arthritis?

What is Arthritis?

When a joint(s) starts paining due to the abnormality of the joint’s cartilage—may be the reduction of cartilage— is called arthritis. In other words, it is the inflammation in joints which collectively describes 200+ joint inflammation condition of joints, cartilage, and other tissues.

Moreover, the most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) which combinedly cause more than 80% of cases. 

In medical terms, joint pain is termed as arthralgia. And the condition where a single joint is involved— monoarthritis, in case two or three joints involved— oligoarthritis. However, if more than three joints have inflammation— it is polyarthritis.

While the most common age that this disease affects is the adults whose age is beyond 65. However, they can affect any age of people who are suffering from rheumatic diseases. Another key similarity is, they usually happen in women and obsess people.

As per the data of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 55.5 million adults have a diagnosis for arthritis. And about half of the patients with proper diet and medication have reduced their joint inflammation.

Specialties of Doctor to Treat Arthritis

To diagnose and treat arthritis, a special doctor—Rheumatologist is called for. A rheumatologist is a medical physician who is devoted to diagnose and treat rheumatic diseases by means of non-surgical treatment and rheumatic therapy.

And the branch of the medicine that deals with the diagnosis and the treatment of rheumatic diseases is Rheumatology. 

In addition, a rheumatologist can deal with other conditions like weight loss, muscle pain, anemia, etc. 

Types of Arthritis

There are more than 150 arthritis types. But these following are the most common types of arthritis:

Types of Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

In this, the body’s immune system attacks the cartilage system of the joints. This would lead to inflammation, degeneration, and pain in these connecting tissues.

With the result, cartilages tend to lose their flexibility and majorly the shock-absorbing ability. In severe conditions, it leads to degeneration of deep cartilages and bones which finally result in the deformity of joints.

In general, it can cause premature mortality and disease like cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the early diagnosis should be done because RA’s condition is fatal and extremely painful.

Osteoarthritis

They are caused by excessive use of joint muscle that causes wear-and-tear in them. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of degenerative joint disease. It affects the cartilage, ligaments, and lining of the bone which eventually causes pain and stiffness in the joint area.

Considerably, osteoarthritis affects heavy joints such as knees, hips, hands, big toes, and spine.

Childhood Arthritis

It is a common name for a group of arthritis that affects children. And the most common type is Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA).

For obvious, children are in their development phases, so these childhood arthritides can cause permanent damage to their joints. Due to this, there is generally no cure. However, some surgeries make the discomfort less painful. 

Hence, an early diagnosis could help children to get away from this life staining arthritis. For instance, the main cause of this childhood deformity is the abnormal immune response.

Septic Arthritis

It is a bacterial or fungal infection that causes inflammation in joints. Most often, it affects the lower region joints—knee and hips joints are common. 

So, when the infectious bacterium (or fungus) reaches the joints it starts infecting and replicating at the cartilages of these joints. The other reasons are any recent surgery, artificial joint implants, intravenous drug use, and recent joint injury. Additionally, it can happen at any age.

The most common bacterias that cause septic arthritis are Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and Candida albicans.

Fibromyalgia

The cause of fibromyalgia is unknown. Yet, there are supporting theories that lead to interpret the cause of fibromyalgia. These are

  • Traumatic and stressful life
  • Repetitive injuries
  • Certain viral infection
  • Have prior conditions like lupus, RA, or chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Genetically transmitted
  • Obesity

However, from the data, females are more likely to have fibromyalgia. While talking about the common symptoms that lead to fibromyalgia are:

  • Numbness in hands and feet
  • Pain in jaw
  • Digestive problems
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fatigue and depression
  • Mood disorder

Psoriatic Arthritis

When psoriasis is responsible for the joint inflammation, it is called to be Psoriatic Arthritis. Psoriasis is a skin disease where the skin surface has brittle rashes and patches. 

As per stats, it affects nearly about 20% of patients who have psoriasis. Therefore, in general, patients first develop psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Like fibromyalgia, the exact cause of this disease is unknown. But, some theory suggests it might be due to abnormal immune responses or might be due to the overproduction of skin cells. 

The common reasons why you get psoriatic arthritis include recent psoriasis, family history, and people’s age between late 30 to early 50s.

Gout

It is one of the most common types of metabolic arthritis which happens due to excessive accumulation of uric acid in the joint area.

This accumulation tends to form small needle-kind crystals that are generally more painful and eventually cause swelling. In addition, the joint area tends to become cherry-purple. 

This may also be related to the poor functioning of the kidney along with obesity. People often report long term pain which generally lasts for days to weeks. And its chronic form causes severe pain with active degeneration of tissue.

Scleroderma

A group of diseases that affects the connective tissues of the body which eventually leads to inflammatory joints. The common symptoms include patches and dry skin which look-like scars. 

However, the cause of this disease is unknown, but one depicted cause is an autoimmune response. In general, they are common in people whose ages are between 30 to 50 years. 

Scleroderma can also affect the internal organs and small arteries which act as a threat to the circulatory system. Some complications from this disease are the weakening of heart muscles, lung damage, skin problems, and kidney failure. 

What are the Causes of Arthritis?

What are the Causes of Arthritis?

Following are the seven broad causes of arthritis

Due to Immune Response

They occur when the body’s immune system starts realizing inflammatory chemicals that cause pain in joints. They are considered normal because it is part of the body’s healing process that can cause inflammations.

Though it often monoarthritis it can affect many joints at the same time. However, Inflammatory arthritis (IA) is less common than osteoarthritis (OA).

While talking about its common symptoms, signs such as pain, swelling, tenderness, and warmth in the joints area. Additionally, morning stiffness that lasts for an hour is a clear sign that you have inflammatory arthritis.

Moreover, the common form of arthritis is

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA), 
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE, lupus), 
  • Gout
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS). 

Mechanism of Inflammation

The inflammation starts with the abnormal action of the body’s immune system. With this, certain inflammatory chemicals are released by the immune system that results in inflammation.

These inflammatory chemicals also attack joint tissue which eventually results in swelling. In addition, they cause an increase in joint fluids, cartilage damage, and also muscle loss along with bone damage. 

This results in the activation of pain receptors on the nerves which finally signal the brain about pain and you start feeling them.

Degeneration and Mechanical Disease

Degenerative arthritis is commonly known to be mechanical arthritis, which is also the most common type of inflammatory pain. It usually affects the joints of the hands, feet, spine, hips, and knees. However, it is sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis disease. 

Altogether, it is a chronic disorder that damages the cartilage and tissues that are surrounding a joint and connects the muscles to bones. With time, the cartilages and surrounding joint tissues tend to become thinner and rougher. That eventually hinders the smooth movements of joints.

To compensate this, the body starts remodeling the bone to attain the stability of joint movements. This will result in the development of unwanted bone growths— osteophytes. After that joints become more deformed and this condition is osteoarthritis.

Soft Tissue Musculoskeletal Pain

Subjectively, they are the pain of tissues— not the joints and bone pain. In general, they are seen in the joint where there is a higher chance of injuries like knees and elbows. 

Due to the overuse or injury in such joints can cause the erosion of muscles or soft tissues that supports joints. The pain usually lasts longer and other signs indicate the case of fibromyalgia.

Back Pain

There is a vast way back pain could occur. Some main reasons are problems in other organs, gastric problems, heart problems, etc. But, when muscles, discs, nerves, ligaments, bones, or joints of the back or backbone have deformed arrangements it leads to back pain.

On the other hand, in general, osteoarthritis can be the cause of back pain. And this condition of the spine is called spondylosis. Moreover, another leading cause of back pain is slipped disc and thinning of the backbone.

This condition eventually ends up in obese people. While, with the aging, backbone density decreases. This is the reason why old age people have constant back pain.

Due to Connective Tissue Disease (CTD)

As you know, connective tissues are the group of tendons, ligaments, and cartilages that are responsible for binding the tissues together, supporting joints, separate body tissues, and organs. 

So, when a Connective tissue disease occurs it causes joint pain, skin muscles, lungs, and kidneys conditions. That’s the reason why a number of tests and specialists are required to diagnose and treat CTD.

Some CTD includes Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, scleroderma, and dermatomyositis.

Due to Infectious Organisms

When joint inflammation or pain is due to some infectious organism such as bacterium, virus, or fungus then it is termed as infectious arthritis

Likewise, there are numerous organisms that can cause inflammation in joints but more common encounter organisms are salmonella, shigella, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and hepatitis C.

Besides this, there are certain antibiotics and antimicrobial medication, infectious arthritis can be treated. Moreover, in a few cases, this infectious inflammation can be chronic which can cause irreversible infection and permanent joint and muscle damage. 

Due to Metabolic Action (Uric Acid)

In general, the most responsible factor for metabolic arthritis is the excessive-quantity of uric acid in the blood. This leads to the deposition of uric acid in various joints which usually are needle-like structures. This can cause severe swelling and pain. 

These needle-like crystals could cause sudden intense pain or a gout attack. As per the researcher’s theory, there is a correlation between uric acid crystals and cooler joints. Therefore, they can usually be seen in the joints of hands and big toes. 

Common Sign and Symptoms of Arthritis

Common Sign and Symptoms of Arthritis

There are basically two main symptoms one is, pain and the other is limited movement of joints. However, the symptoms of arthritis usually develop with time but there are some conditions (types) where there is sudden pain and inflammation starts.

The following list is the most common symptoms of arthritis:

  • Poor functioning of joints
  • Stiffness— worse in morning hours
  • Constant Uneven pain
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tenderness— with or without pain
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Loss of cartilage over joints
  • Abnormal tissues growth
  • Impaired movements of knees and hips joint
  • In finger joints— causes a decrease in grip strength

However, many arthritis can cause various other symptoms in the patients, but they are not that much common than we stated earlier.

These symptoms are  

  • Weight loss
  • Mild fever from pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes or other glands
  • Fatigue and unwell feeling
  • Serve symptoms can generate conditions like cardiovascular, lungs, or kidney disease.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

There are the following ways for diagnosing arthritis disease.

Physical Examination

Rheumatologists can check for the swelling, redness, and warmth of the joints by imitating the natural movement of the joints.

Based on the result, the physician can suggest other clinical and imaging tests. So, you can consider it as the primary test to guide further preceding tests.

Clinical Test

Here, the blood samples, fluid samples from joints, and rarely the urine samples are analyzed for any abnormalities that define a certain type of arthritis. However, joint fluids pinpoint a more accurate result than the blood tests. 

Imaging

To detect any abnormality and cartilage degeneration, imaging tests are done. These are the following list of imaging tools that are used for the imaging process.

I. X-rays

With the low level of radiation, x-ray interprets the cartilage loss, bone damages, and also joint spurs.

II. Computerized Tomography (CT)

It creates a cross-sectional view of internal structures which helps to analyze both the soft tissues and the bone arrangements in the joint.

III. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

With MRI, a detailed view of a cross-sectional image of cartilages, tendons, and ligaments can be seen.

IV. Ultrasound

It uses high-frequency sound waves to generate images of soft tissues, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures.

Treatment For Arthritis

While talking about its treatment, there are two main objectives: one is to reduce inflammation and pain. On the other hand, the second objective is to prevent any additional damages to joints.

There are various temporary pain-relieving things that one can do such as using heating pads and ice packs. Although some people with knee joint pain can use canes or walkers for walking.

Additionally, there are certain medications and therapy that doctors can conduct to relieve the pain of the patients. 

Drugs and Medication

There are basically four broad categories of drugs that are used in the treatment of arthritis:

1. Analgesics: Effective for pain reliefs, medications such as hydrocodone or acetaminophen.

2. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Effective in both controlling pain and inflammation, medication such as ibuprofen and salicylates.

3. Anti-Inflammatory Creams: Blocks the pain receptors that transmit pain signals. Menthol or Capsaicin creams are common examples of anti-inflammatory creams. 

4. Immunosuppressants: Reduces inflammation. Medications such as prednisone or cortisone are common. 

Physical Therapy

With the application of certain exercises in your daily lives can strengthen the muscles and joint area. But you should hire a personal therapist to guide you, which exercise is better for your joints and which you should avoid. 

Surgery

In general, there are certain types of surgery that can be done in arthritis.

1. Artificial Bone Replacement: In a few cases, joints certain bones need replacements. Common replacement bone surgeries are hips and knees.

2. Joint Fusion: In this, joints like fingers or wrist are needed to fuse which are done by mechanically locking two bones together till they form one.

General FAQ

Is it possible to prevent arthritis?

Ans. Since, in most cases, arthritis is genetics. And also there is no way by which you can prevent it from happening to yourself. However, if arthritis is due to joint injury, you can use some protection pads to prevent such injuries. 

What is the best treatment for arthritis?

Ans. The best treatment for arthritis is by using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that help you to reduce pain and inflammation in joints. 

Which foods make arthritis worse?

Ans. Arthritis’s inflammation majorly depends on diet plans. Some diets like processed foods, sugar, omega-6 fatty acids, red and fried meat, cheese, etc. rich food can worsen your pain and inflammation.

Is apple cider vinegar good for arthritis?

Ans. Yes, it is known that apple cider vinegar is an effective remedy for arthritis pain.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.