General Health

Arthritis Types and Treatments

When people hear of arthritis, they immediately think of debilitating joint pain that impacts their entire lifestyle. What they don’t know is that that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, each of them affecting patients differently. Arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints and the surrounding tissues as well as other connective tissues. This inflammation often results in debilitating pain, joint stiffness, as well as reduced quality of life due to limited joint functionality. The good news, however, is that it is possible to prevent irreversible damage if diagnosed early enough.

As noted earlier, there are over 100 types of arthritis. The most common however are as follows:

1. Osteoarthritis
Also known as degenerative arthritis or OA, osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting over 27 million people in the US alone. It often affects the knees, hips, lower back, hand joints, and even the neck. It develops when the protective cartilage found in your joints wears out, causing your bones to rub directly over each other. This repeated rubbing causes inflammation resulting in debilitating pain, swelling and even spur formation. In most cases, this type of arthritis comes with age but can also be as a result of obesity, as the excess weight tends to cause extra stress to your joints or previous injuries. The main symptom of OA is pain after a physical activity like walking, or after a long time of being immobile, this pain often worsens over time which is why it is vital you seek treatment as soon as possible.

2. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Affecting about 1.5 million people in the US, rheumatoid arthritis is more than an autoimmune response rather than a disorder. In other words, this type of arthritis occurs when the body’s natural defenses, attack healthy joints instead of protecting them. It mainly attacks the synovial fluid whose function is to protect the joints, eventually wearing it out, and causing inflammation to the actual joints. If not treated early, it can cause severe joint damage. It mainly affects the elbows, heels, and knuckles. Some of the main symptoms to be on the lookout for include fatigue, fever, joint pain and stiffness, numbness, sleep difficulties, and anemia.

3. Arthritis treatments
Arthritis treatments aim at pain control, minimizing or preventing further joint damage, and improving their functionality. The most effective arthritis treatments include:

  • Medications for reducing pain and frequency of flare ups (i.e., corticosteroids, biologic response modifiers, analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (or NSAIDs).
  • Physical and occupational therapies to help manage arthritis.
  • Patient education and support, for instance, advice on foods that promote healing.
  • Weight loss for those who suffer arthritis and excess joint stress due to obesity.
  • Joint replacement surgery.

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