Why Arthritis is more complicated than ‘Wear and Tear’ on your joints
Arthritis is a general term for conditions that cause inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. Joints are places in the body where bones come together, such as the knees, hips, elbows, or shoulders. The ends of the bones are covered with a smooth tissue called cartilage, and are surrounded by tissue called a capsule.
When you have any type of arthritis, it generally causes pain, stiffness, swelling and decreased range of motion because inflammation affects how the ends of the bones can move. There are many different types of arthritis, which affect different age groups, have different causes, and have different treatments. This post will four common categories, however there are over 100 types of the condition overall.
Figure 1. Osteoarthritis vs. Rheumatoid Arthritis
Types of Arthritis:
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs in virtually all adults after the age of 65 year old. This happens when the cartilage between the joints breaks down over time. This can happen due to overuse of the joints or from a major injury. Osteoarthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. It can also make it hard to move the affected joint.
However, the best way to understand osteoarthritis is as normal age-related changes to your joints. You can almost look at osteoarthritis as similar to wrinkles of your skin. Both osteoarthritis and wrinkles occur to virtually all of us, however they progress at different rates depending on our genetics and habits. In a future post, we will cover osteoarthritis in-depth with exercises and tips.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a different in that it can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints, typically on both sides of the body. It happens when the body’s immune system attacks the tissues around the joints. This can damage the cartilage and bone around the joints over time. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the hands and feet but it can also affect other parts of the body such as the neck or back. It is generally thought to be hereditary, primarily affecting women between the ages of 40 and 60 years old.
Psoriatic arthritis affects people who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that causes patches of red, dry skin on the body. Psoriatic arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints as well as fatigue and fever. It can also cause changes in nails and patches of red skin on the body.
Gout is a condition that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is a waste product that comes from foods like meat and seafood as well as alcohol and sugary drinks. When there is too much uric acid in the blood it can form crystals in the joints which can cause pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness around the joint. Gout usually affects men over 40 years old but it can also affect women after menopause.
Symptoms of Arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis vary depending on which type you have but they usually include pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion around one or more joints in your body. You may also have fatigue, fever, or weight loss if you have rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. If you have gout you may also have redness around your joint as well as a fever or chills.
Figure 2. Knee Joint Assessment
Treatment for Arthritis
The best way to treat arthritis depends on which type you have, as well as how severe your symptoms are. However there are some general things that you can do to help relieve your symptoms: such as exercise, weight loss if you are overweight or obese, eating healthy foods, and taking medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may also need to see a doctor or specialist for additional treatment options such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgery, or injections.
Figure 3. Exercise for Arthritis
Arthritis is a general term for conditions that affect the joints and surrounding tissues. There are over 100 different types of arthritis with osteoarthritis being the most common. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. More severe cases may require physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgery, or medications . If you think you may have arthritis it’s important you receive an accurate diagnosis from a health care practitioner. Our chiropractors specialize in joint-related disorders, if you have any symptoms of pain or stiffness in your joints, please feel free to contact us.
Ontario Chiropractic Association – Management of Arthritis
Mayo Clinic – Symptoms of Arthritis
Disclaimer – the content on this blog is designed for educational and information purposes only, it is not intended for medical advice. If you are in pain, call your medical professional.