What you need to know about arthritis
The word ‘arthritis’ essentially means joint inflammation however, the term can be used to describe approximately 200 rheumatic disease and conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 52.5 million adults report having been diagnosed with a form of arthritis.
What is arthritis?
Contrary to popular belief, arthritis does not refer to a single disease bur rather joint pain or joint disease. While it is known that arthritis commonly occurs in elders, younger people can get it as well and it occurs more frequently in women. Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are known to affect multiple organs.
There are around 200 types of arthritis – or musculoskeletal conditions – which are split into seven main groups:
- Inflammatory arthritis
- Degenerative or mechanical arthritis
- Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain
- Back pain
- Connective tissue disease
- Infectious arthritis
- Metabolic arthritis
The symptoms may vary depending on the type, however, the four main warning signs of arthritis include pain, stiffness, swelling and difficulty moving a joint. Pain caused by arthritis may be isolated to one place or in many parts of the body. If the skin over the affected joint become red, swollen and feel warm, it should also be seen as a warning sign.
Many cases of arthritis can be diagnosed with a detailed medical history of symptoms, current and past, a physical examination and radiographic and lab studies however, the specific tests ordered during the diagnostic process will vary depending on the type of arthritis your medical professional suspects. Some of the most common tests that may be conducted include but aren’t limited to:
- Complete blood count
- Joint ultrasound or MRI
- Joint X-ray
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate
- Bone Scan
- Synovial fluid analysis
- Tear test
Through the treatment of arthritis, doctors aim to minimise pain and joint damage and to improve quality of life. There are various medications and treatments that can achieve this depending on the type of arthritis a person may have. Some treatments include:
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Joint replacement or joint surgery
- Splints or other joint aids
While there is no one diet that can treat arthritis, there are several foods that can reduce inflammation and provide many nutrients that promote joint health. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Olive oil
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruits and vegetables
In order to manage the disease it is recommended that people stay physically active, achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight, go for regular check-ups and protect their joints from unnecessary stress. Should you be experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, we advise that you seek the advice of a medical professional.