What Is Arthritis?
Pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints is termed as arthritis. It is a clinical situation which occurs due to wearing away of the bones involved in the joint leading to friction. Also the synovial fluid may diminish with age and synovial membrane may swell, all factors leading to arthritis. Joints routinely involved in arthritis include knee, ankle, lower back, wrist and fingers.
Causes of Arthritis:
- Trauma or injury in and around the joint may cause arthritis
- Autoimmune diseases may lead to production of cells which begin to destroy the host’s synovial membranes
- Reduction in the synovial fluid, swelling in the synovial membrane all cause arthritis
Signs And Symptoms Of Arthritis:
- Pain in and around the joint
- Swelling and redness over the affected area
- Stiffness over the joint, restricted movement
- General discomfort in performing daily activities
- More often, tendons, ligaments and muscles also get involved
Diagnosis Of Arthritis:
Laboratory tests: A blood test is normally carried out for three major factors. These are the erythrocyte sedimentation rate ESR, C-Reactive protein and anti-CCP which is anti cyclic citrullinated peptides antibodies. In cases of arthritis, the ESR is elevated. Similarly the CRP and anti CCP antibodies percentage is also increased.
Imaging techniques: These include routine x-rays of the joints to view the bony articulations and surfaces. In addition, a computed tomography CT may be done to study the joint place in details. A magnetic resonance imaging MRI can also be done in order to study the joint space, articular eminences and the cartilage around the joint cavity.
Types of Arthritis:
- Inflammatory: It is the commonest type of arthritis where inflammation occurs without any apparent injury or infections. The synovial membrane which otherwise acts a cushion for the bony surfaces now becomes inflamed. This in turn leads to pain, swelling and stiffness in the affected joint area. Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and arthritis associated with psoriasis and colitis fall under this category.
- Infectious: This occurs as a result of bacterial, viral or fungal infection of joint. Bacteria such as salmonella and shigella cause food poisoning that can also affect the joints. Chlamydia and gonorrhea being sexually transmitted diseases also can involve the joints. Hepatitis C which can be spread through infected needles, may manifest into joint inflammation.
- Soft tissue: The most common type is fibromyalgia in which a wide spread pain occurs in the muscles, tendons and ligaments owing to exceeding the weight bearing capacity of the body.
- Connective tissue: These are conditions where pain, swelling and stiffness occurs in the lungs and kidneys apart from other connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments. Scleroderma, systemic lupus erythmatosus and dermatolysis are examples of it.
- Metabolic: Gout is the commonest form of metabolic arthritis which occurs due to excessive deposition of uric acid crystals in the joint spaces. Uric acid ideally leaves the body thorough urine via the filtration process it undergoes in the kidneys. When the excretion of uric becomes faulty, it begins to deposit in the joint membranes leading to restricted movements, pain and swelling.
- Degenerative: It is also known as mechanical type of arthritis where the cartilage covering the bony ends is affected. The major function of the cartilage is to allow easy and smooth gliding movements between the bony surfaces while they move. In degenerative arthritis, the cartilage starts getting thinner and rougher. As a result, the bony ends begin to grow in order to compensate for the loss part of cartilage. This can be a mishap and add to further complications during movement. Osteoarthritis is a common example.
Treatment Procedures for Arthritis:
- Medications: A variety of medications can be prescribed to ease out the discomfort caused by pain, swelling and joint stiffness. These include analgesics which can only cause relief from pain and cannot subside the inflammation. NSAIDs non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs on the other hand can cause relief from both swelling and pain. These medications can be available in oral dosage form, creams, gels which can be applied directly over the joint. Counterirritants like menthol and capsaicin when used in gel form interfere with the transmission of pain and lead to temporary relief from pain. DMARDs disease modifying antirheumatic drugs stop the immune system from attacking the joints. Corticosteroids suppress the immune system and reduce the inflammation drastically.
- Physiotherapy/Occupational therapy: This can be helpful for many types of arthritis. Exercises can improve the range of motion and lead to improving the strength of muscles surrounding the joints. In some cases, splints may also be used. These two therapies aim at improving the self dependency of the patients and enabling them to carry out the routine activities without any major help.
- Surgical approach: In a joint repair surgery, the bony surfaces of the joint are realigned and recontoured. This is performed arthroscopically, with small incisions made over the joint involved. In a joint replacement type of surgery, the entire joint is removed and replaced with an artificial one. It is most commonly the option for knees and hips. In a joint fusion, smaller joints like that of the ankle, fingers, wrists are operated. The ends of the bones in the joints are removed and are then locked together for reunion. Thus one rigid joint structure is formed without any damaged parts.
Complications And Risk Factors Associated With Arthritis:
- Obesity is the leading cause for the failure of any surgical approach for the correction of arthritis. It pressurized the weight bearing joints of the body
- Underlying systemic conditions such as hypertension and diabetes further add to the complications.
Am I A Good Candidate for Arthritis treatment?
You qualify for an arthritis treatment, be it a medication therapy, physiotherapy or surgical approach, if you have any of the following features:
- Pain and swelling in and around joint area
- Restricted movements
- Difficulty while walking, performing daily tasks
Medications tend to subside the pain and swelling in chronic cases. However physiotherapy is a must for increasing the range of motions of the joint. A surgical approach becomes mandatory once it is established that the joint no longer can function as a result of total damage of the articulating surfaces.
Why Choose India?
Indian orthopedic hospitals and institutes offer a variety of treatment approach for all the bones and joints in the human body. Team MedcureIndia has a vast number of skilled arthritis specialists in its knowledge, place where we direct our clients for the treatment concerned and assure satisfactory results.