Around 10 million people in the UK are thought to have arthritis.
The common condition can affect people of all ages – from children to the elderly.
Although there are hundreds of different conditions affecting the joints, the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Here we explain more about what exactly arthritis is, and delve into the symptoms, causes and treatment options. Arthritis UK: What is arthritis? Symptoms, causes and treatment options revealed What is arthritis?
Arthritis, broadly speaking, means inflammation in any joint, and the term is usually used to describe pain, swelling and stiffness in a joint or joints.
It is an umbrella-term, but there are various kinds of arthritis.
For example, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis both affect your joints, but they are different forms of the condition.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, and is a degenerative joint condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which means your body starts to attack itself.
The attack causes fluid to accumulate in your joint – causing pain and swelling.
A degenerative joint disorder is a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the joints.
The wearing down of the cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing pain. What are the symptoms of arthritis?
The symptoms of arthritis depends on what type of arthritis you have.
For example, the symptoms of osteoarthritis may include joint pain and progressive stiffness which may get worse.
Rheumatoid arthritis can cause painful swelling, inflammation and stiffness in fingers, arms, legs and wrists.
More general symptoms, according to the NHS, are:
• joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
• Inflammation in and around the joints
• Restricted movement of the joints
• Warm, red skin over the affected joint
• Weakness and muscle wasting
If you experience any of these symptoms it is important to see your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis. What is the cause of arthritis?
It is difficult to find the cause of arthritis, and there are several factors which increase the risk of each type.
There is no one single cause, and it can vary depending on the type of arthritis.
However, some causes, according to Medical News Today, may include:
• Injury – degenerative arthritis
• Abdominal metabolism – gout and pseudogout
• Inheritance – Osteoarthritis
• Infections – Arthritis of Lyme disease
• Immune system dysfunction – rheumatoid arthritis or Lupus Arthritis
In addition, normal wear and tear can cause osteoarthritis, which is the most common forms of arthritis.
An injection or injury can also cause the natural breakdown of cartilage history.
Meanwhile, for rheumatoid arthritis it is not known why the immune system starts attacking itself.
However, scientists have discovered genetic markers can increase your risk of developing it. Does arthritis get worse in winter?
Arthritis symptoms can be exacerbated by the cold weather.
The cold climate can create increased pain on to the joints.
It’s believed that this is due to changes in barometric pressure, which tends to occur during winter.
Sufferers are advised to wear layers, including hats and gloves, to keep the chill off. What are the treatment options for arthritis? The aim of treating arthritis is to reduce the amount of pain you are experiencing and to prevent further damage.In the last few years treatment options have greatly improved for arthritis.For example, there are a number of different medications, including Analgesics, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, menthol or capsaicin creams or immunosuppressants.Some people find simply using heating pads or ice packs can sooth the pain.Others use mobility assistance devices such as canes or walkers to take the pressure off.Another option is to replace your joint with an artificial one through surgery. This is common for hips and knees.
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