A well-known disease affecting over 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States, arthritis is a blanket term used to describe symptoms of joint pain in various areas of the body. Although it has the propensity to affect children, the risk factor for arthritis grows as we age. With more than 100 different types of arthritis in existence, finding methods to treat each type can be a bit challenging for doctors and patients alike.
For those who are yet unfamiliar with the symptoms of arthritis, they are as follows:
- Swelling: Various areas of the body may swell, due to factors such as weather and/or one’s own physical activities.
- Pain: The swollen areas will also be stricken with a level of pain ranging from mild to severe, depending on the area and type of arthritis.
- Stiffness: Areas affected by arthritis will also experience a decrease in the level of mobility and stiffness.
- Decreased range of motion: Joints will not work as efficiently as possible when experiencing a flare-up.
Types of Arthritis
As noted, there is a wide variety of types of arthritis in existence. The following are some of the most common:
- Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis refers to a condition in which the cartilage protecting the bones is worn away, leaving the bones to rub up against one another with every use. This causes symptoms such as pain, swelling, and stiffness, among others. Moreover, if left untreated, the bones can lose strength and the pain can become chronic.
- Metabolic Arthritis: Although uric acid is a substance that occurs naturally in the body, having an abundance of it can create problems with the bones and joints. Metabolic arthritis occurs when uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, which causes sporadic yet extreme pain.
- Inflammatory Arthritis: Although the body produces inflammation as a means of warding off infection and disease, the immune system can become problematic and begin attacking with uncontrolled inflammation, which ultimately causes joint erosion and can even damage internal organs. According to experts, this type of arthritis is most likely caused by a mixture of genetics and external factors, which can cause autoimmunity.
- Infectious Arthritis: Simply put, infectious arthritis occurs when a fungus or virus enters the joint, triggering inflammation. For instance, shigella, chlamydia, and hepatitis C are examples of infections capable of triggering this level of inflammation.
Although there are a variety of reasons behind the development of arthritis, some causes are more common than others. The following is a closer look at some of the more common contributing factors:
- Age: Despite affecting people of all ages, the risk of developing arthritis increases with age.
- Gender: Although the disease can affect both men and women, arthritis occurs more frequently in women.
- Obesity: Moreover, even though people of all shapes and sizes suffer from arthritis, being overweight is also a common cause of arthritis. This is due to the fact that carrying extra weight puts extra stress on the joints. This results in more wear and tear, increasing the risk of arthritis.
- Work factors: Although a person can end up with arthritis no matter what type of job they may have, jobs that necessitate monotonous movements or heavy lifting can cause stress to the joints as well as injury, which can lead to arthritis.
Despite the fact that there is no way to completely cure arthritis, it’s nevertheless still possible to reduce or even eliminate the symptoms. Moreover, for those who either experience a sudden onset of extreme symptoms or have reached their limit with regards to the pain being caused by the disease, emergency arthritis treatment may be necessary. The following is a closer look at the potential treatment options:
- Medications: One of the most common treatment options for arthritis is medication. Depending on the type and severity of your pain, drugs can address both pain and the inflammation caused by the disease.
- Joint Surgery: Although it is often not the first choice, joint surgery may be the best option for treating arthritis. Depending on the type of arthritis and the severity of the pain, the type of surgery being advised will vary. For instance, an arthroscopy is recommended for active people over the age of 40 as a means of fixing tears in soft tissues surrounding the knees, hips, shoulders and other joints. A synovectomy, meanwhile, is recommended for those who have limited cartilage and have tried anti-inflammatory medications without results.
- Natural Arthritis Treatments: By working with a trusted professional, one can develop a personalized plan to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis. These plans can include everything from helpful practices such as yoga or Pilates, taking vitamins and other supplements, as well as switching up one’s diet to include more anti-inflammatory foods.
Overall, arthritis is a complex disease that affects many people across the globe. For those suffering from extreme pain and living in the San Antonio area, visit the Gonzaba Urgent Care Clinic and let their highly qualified staff provide relief and treatment when it’s most needed.