Arthritis is the soreness or inflammation of the joints. A joint is an area where two different bones of the body meet. A joint helps in the proper functioning of the movement of the body parts joined by its bones. Arthritis is thus the inflammation of one or more joints that worsen with age.
Arthritis is frequently followed by joint pain referred to as Arthralgia. When arthritis involves two or three joints, it is known as oligoarthritis. When only a single joint is involved, it is known as Monoarthritis. When more joints are involved, it is known as Polyarthritis.
There are as many as 100 types of arthritis known to exist and the number is growing. Few names of different types are Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Juvenile Arthritis, Palindromic Rheumatism, Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, and Wegener’s Granulomatosis and so on.
Different types of arthritis have different causes for e.g., Osteoarthritis is caused due to injury, Gout and Pseudogout are caused due to metabolic abnormalities, and Rheumatoid arthritis is caused due to an error in the immune system (autoimmune disorder).
The risk factor includes genes i.e. inherited from ancestors and caused because of trauma due to injury.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis-
Pain and inadequate function of joints are the common symptoms of arthritis. Joint stiffness, inflammation, redness, pain, and warmth are characteristics of Joint inflammation. There might be tenderness of the swollen joint with or without pain. When large joints such as the knee are involved, it can lead to loss of cartilage with the limitation of motion from the joint damage. When the small joints in fingers are affected by arthritis, there might be bone growth and loss of grip in hands and grip strength of the hand.
Many of the types of arthritis which are rheumatic diseases can cause signs that affect multiple organs of the body which do not necessarily affect the joints. Therefore, symptoms in few patients with a certain type of arthritis can also include weight loss, fever, swelling of glands (lymph nodes swelling), feeling unwell, fatigue, and even cause certain symptoms due to abnormalities of organs such as the heart, kidneys, or lungs.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Arthritis-
The first step is to see your primary care physician if you are not sure who to see for an arthritis diagnosis. A physical examination will be done to check for the presence of fluid around the joints, redness or warm joints, and whether the range of motion in the joints is limited. You will be referred to a specialist by your doctor if required. If there are severe symptoms it is better to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist first. This will lead to a rapid diagnosis and treatment.
The doctor will analyze inflammation levels in your blood and fluids in joints to determine what kind of arthritis you have. Common diagnostic tests include several blood tests that check for specific types of antibodies like anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide, RF (rheumatoid factor) and ANA (antinuclear antibody). Imaging scans such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scans to produce an image of your bones and cartilage is also done by doctors. Irreversible damage and disability can be prevented by an early and accurate diagnosis of arthritis.
The main motive behind the treatment is to reduce the amount of pain you experience and prevent any additional damage to the joints. There are many options to opt in order to avoid pain and get relief, such as mobility assistance devices, like walkers or canes, to help reduce pressure from sore joints.Heating pads and Ice packs help in soothing the pain.
Different types of medication are used to treat arthritis like Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Ibuprofen), Analgesics (acetaminophen and hydrocodone), Creams (Capsaicin or Menthol) to relieve pain, Immunosuppressant (cortisone) to reduce inflammation. Corticosteroids are prescribed for Rheumatoid arthritis. Basically, Surgery is done to replace your joint with an artificial one, mostly to replace hips and knees.
If the arthritis is most severe in the fingers or wrists, the doctor may suggest a joint fusion in which the ends of the bones are locked together until they heal and become one. Physical therapy or exercise is practiced which help in strengthening the muscles around the affected joint.
Diet for Arthritis-
Stock your fridge with fruits, vegetables, fish, nuts, and beans and discard processed foods and saturated fat. These are Mediterranean staples which help in fighting pain and inflammation. They are also known for their disease-fighting and anti-aging properties. They curb inflammation and thus help in managing arthritis. They lead to weight loss and help manage pain in joints.
Whether it’s an arthritis diet, a Mediterranean diet, or an anti-inflammatory diet, let’s focus on their types and why they’re so good for joint.
Fruits and Veggies: Colourful fruits and veggies like blueberries, kale, cherries, broccoli, and spinach. They are all quite rich in antioxidants thus helps in curing arthritis to a certain extent. Anthocyanins which are found in cherries and fruits like raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries have anti-inflammatory properties. Citrus fruits like limes, oranges, etc. are rich in vitamin C which aids in preventing inflammation and maintains healthy joints. Vitamin K-rich veggies like broccoli, spinach, lettuce, etc. reduce inflammatory markers in the blood.
Whole Grains: Whole-wheat flour, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal are rich in filling fiber which helps in maintaining a healthy weight as well as lowers the level of inflammatory markers C- reactive proteins in the blood.
Beans: Beans (small red beans, pinto beans, and red kidney beans) are rich in fiber and phytonutrients, which lowers indicator of inflammation (CRP) found in the blood. They are also an excellent and cheap source of protein which is important for muscle health.
Seeds and Nuts: Nuts like walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, and almonds are rich sources of inflammation-fighting monounsaturated fat. They are high in fat and calorie content so munching on nuts promotes weight loss because of their protein, monosaturated fats, and fibers are satisfying.
Fish: There are few types of fish like Salmon, herring, anchovies, tuna, sardines, scallops and other cold-water fish which are good sources of inflammation-fighting omega-3 fatty acids. If you hate fish then you can take a supplement in the form of essential fish oil which eases joint swelling and pain, joint stiffness, tenderness mostly in people with rheumatoid arthritis cases (RA). Fish oil is effective to reduce skin allergies too beside arthritis.
Olive Oil: Olive oil has heart-healthy fats, as well as oleo-canthal, which has similar properties to that of nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs. These compounds inhibit the activity of COX enzymes and provide a pharmacological action similar to that of an ibuprofen which lowers the body’s inflammatory process and reduces sensitivity to pain.
Safflower oils and Avocado also have cholesterol-lowering properties while walnut oil has omega-3s, 10 times as that found in olive oil.
Nightshades should be avoided: Eggplants, potatoes, red bell peppers, tomatoes are nightshade veggies which contain solanine, a chemical which is known to cause arthritis pain. While some experts, as a matter of fact, believe that these vegetables contain a potent nutrient that helps in curing severe arthritis pain.Many people, however, do report significant relief when they avoid nightshade vegetables in arthritis.