Contributed by: Priyaish Srivastava
Did you know?
- World Arthritis Day is observed every year on 12th October to create awareness about the seriousness of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs).
- The theme of World Arthritis Day 2021 is ‘Don’t Delay, Connect Today: Time2Work’.
- The day was first marked in the year 1996 by Arthritis and Rheumatoid International (ARI), and since then, the day is observed every year to create more awareness about arthritis.
- Arthritis affects approximately 21 crore people in India, which is roughly around 15% of the total population.
- 1 out of every 4 adults is afflicted by this debilitating condition
Read about our previous coverage on myths surrounding arthritis to get a clearer picture with the right information.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is an umbrella term for rheumatic conditions that give rise to persistent joint inflammation. Rheumatic diseases are autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that attack the immune system and affect the functioning of the joints, muscles, bones, and other organs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 100 rheumatological disorders that can affect your overall well-being.
Arthritis involves the development of pain, stiffness, and swelling in and around the joints. Some arthritic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the performance of several internal organs.
Arthritis is the most prevailing disease in India that affects more than 21 crore Indians. The number of people suffering from arthritis is more than the number of people suffering from other serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and AIDS. This data increases the importance of acknowledging the severity of the condition, as it can lead to the development of illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, lung complications, and eye inflammation.
This article will take you through some common types, causes, and risk factors of arthritis. You’ll also learn about the common symptoms, diagnoses, and treatment & preventive measures that can help manage the condition better.
Common types of arthritis
It is the most common type of arthritis which can influence any joints of the body but mostly affects those that are commonly used and bears your weight such as the joints of the hands, knees and feet. In this condition, the cartilage of the joints is damaged due to repeated stress, giving rise to joint inflammation.
Ankylosing spondylitis (AS)
This condition affects the lower back of your body including the hips, making the area rigid and painful. This form of arthritis inflames the joints between the pelvis and the base of the spine. It can also occur due to genetic links and mostly affects people aged between 17 and 45 years.
As the name implies, this form of arthritis can affect minors who are aged between 14 and 17 years. The condition gives rise to inflammation of the synovium (tissue inside the joints) that can lead to joint stiffness, persistent fever, rash, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, and blurred vision.
A severe form of arthritis that develops due to the presence of high levels of uric acid in the blood. The condition causes intense pain, stiffness, and swelling usually in the first toe, but it can also affect other joints in your body.
Pronounced as ‘sorry-attik arthritis’, this ailment affects the joints of the neck, back, elbow, shoulder, wrists, fingers, knees, ankles, and toes. Psoriatic arthritis usually develops in people suffering from the skin condition ‘psoriasis’ (occurrence of scales, itchy, and dry patches) and causes inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease that attacks healthy cells in the body. The condition damages the joints causes chronic pain, and can also lead to unsteadiness. Depending on the severity of the condition, RA can negatively influence the functioning of organs such as your lungs, heart, and eyes.
Causes and risk factors of arthritis
There’s no single or definitive cause for arthritis. Most forms of arthritic diseases occur due to a combination of factors, and some may happen as an add-on due to an existing arthritis disease. Here are some prominent factors that can cause arthritis.
- Tobacco and alcohol consumption
- Injury to any organ (due to a disease or trauma)
- Abnormal metabolism
- Autoimmune condition
- Genetical inheritance
- Lack of physical activity
- Less/no consumption of nutritious foods
- Continuously performing activities that exert pressure on the joints
Certain risk factors that are associated with arthritis include
- The risk of arthritis diseases increases with age
- Women are more prone to RA and males to gout
- Arthritis can be inherited
- Obesity and being overweight
- Joint injuries
- An occupation that involves heavy lifting
Symptoms of arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis widely depend upon its type. Since the condition is chronic, the symptoms can be persistent or may come and go over time. Some of these symptoms include:
- Pain, stiffness, redness, swelling, tenderness, and warmth in joints
- Chest pain while breathing
- Dry eyes and mouth
- Burning or itching sensation in the eyes
- Sleep difficulties
- Lumps under the skin (can also occur due to underlying diseases)
- Morning stiffness
- Vision difficulties
- Headaches including migraine
- Irritable bowel syndrome
If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned arthritis symptoms, it’s time to initiate the first step toward treatment, which is to get diagnosed. Your doctor may implement:
- Physical examination
- Image testing like X-ray
- Testing the fluid in your joints
- Blood test
- Urine test
Treatment or preventive measures for arthritis
The treatment of arthritis is aimed at controlling pain, minimizing joint damage, and improving your daily life. Your doctor can prescribe certain medications to manage the condition and suggest preventive measures that can provide long-lasting benefits. These include:
- Staying physically active
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not skipping medicines
- Avoiding smoking and drinking
- Improving sleep cycle
- Massaging the joints
- Avoiding activities that can exert pressure on joints
- Undergoing therapies like warm water therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy
- Always consult the doctor upon experiencing any change in the symptoms
Some research studies have found that yoga and Ayurveda can help manage the condition and make joints healthier. Some of the recommended yogasans include:
- Virabhadrasana or warrior pose
- Vrikshasana or tree pose
- Trikonasana or triangle pose
- Setubandhasana or bridge pose
- Urdhvamukhi Marjariasana and Adhomukhi Marjariasana
Some easily available Ayurvedic ingredients that can add to your diet or consume as side-effect-free Ayurvedic supplements to help manage arthritis and promote your overall health include:
- Black pepper
Arthritis is a group of diseases that not only affects your overall well-being but also puts a dent in your day-t0-day life. To prevent the worsening and to reduce the impact of arthritis, you should undergo an early diagnosis upon experiencing the above-mentioned symptoms. Don’t forget to take necessary preventive measures and consider Yogasanas and Ayurvedic foods that can help manage the condition at a rapid
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