The word ‘Arthritis’ literal means pain and swelling in one joint or more than one joint. It is one of most common cause of disability worldwide. There can be more than 100 diseases which can be presented as arthritis.
The most common includes:
Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Juvenile Idiopathic arthritis, Gout, fibromyalgia, spondyloarthritidis including ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and SLE.
People of all races and ages can develop these conditions. Some are more common among certain groups of people. For example: Rheumatoid arthritis occurs more often in women than in men. Ankylosing spondylitis is more common in young males while osteoarthritis is a disease of elder population.
Broadly arthritis can be divided in Inflammatory arthritis and non-inflammatory arthritis. Non inflammatory arthritis is usually seen in osteoarthritis which develops due to age related natural changes in the joints. Inflammatory arthritis is associated with most of Rheumatic diseases. It is important to diagnose and treat patients with inflammatory arthritis as early as possible as lack of proper treatment can result in damage to joints resulting in deformities. Common sign and symptoms associated with inflammatory arthritis are swelling in one or more joints, Stiffness around the joints that lasts for at least 1 hour in the early morning, Constant or recurring pain or tenderness in a joint, Difficulty using or moving a joint normally, Warmth and redness in a joint.
Arthritis is diagnosed through a careful evaluation of symptoms and a physical examination. Blood tests and other laboratory tests may help to determine the type of arthritis. X-rays are important to show the extent of any damage to the joint
There are many myths regarding treatment of arthritis. Common thinking is that these diseases have no treatment other than pain killers and steroids but reality is that most of arthritis responds well to proper treatment if diagnosed early and started on treatment as early as possible. Early treatment can prevent late stage deformities, disabilities and surgical interventions. Especially in Rheumatoid arthritis which is one of most common type of arthritis after introduction of newer biologic drugs almost all patient can have very good control of disease preventing the long term complications of disease.
The drugs commonly used are: Analgesics, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), Disease-modifying ant rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), Biologic response modifiers, Corticosteroids, Hyaluronic acid substitutes, Nutritional supplements
Physical therapy involving exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint is a core component of arthritis treatment. Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the symptoms.