Arthritis is a medical term used to describe abnormalities that occur within the joints. Just like our muscles, our joints and ligaments need to be constantly repaired. Our body requires unlimited access to oxygen and other nutrients when it repairs itself. When the circulation of the blood becomes inadequate, the ligaments weaken, joint fluid decreases and cartilage wears away.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but the most common types include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), fibromyalgia and gout.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is universally present in older people that belong to the age groups of 50 and over. The disease can also develop after sustaining an injury, especially after playing sports like football or excessive wear and tear to joints.
Osteoarthritis also occurs when a joint’s blood supply becomes inadequate for it’s needed function. Just like a heart weakens and fails to function when the coronary arteries clog up with plaque, the arteries begin to break down whenever the arteries supply become narrow or obstructed.
Obesity causes osteoarthritis because the joints aren’t able to handle the excess amount of pounds that your body has. The hips and knees are at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis because they support a large portion of the body’s weight.
Most osteoarthritis responds to measures that improve circulation, such as lowering the amount of fat in the bloodstream, regular exercise and water treatments such as hydrotherapy
What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?
The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis are pain and stiffness in affected joints. The joints may be swollen, warm to touch or harder to move. There is reportedly a broader range of symptoms among patients with osteoarthritis, but the severity of the symptoms doesn’t equate to joint damage.
A patient with a damaged joint may have fewer symptoms that a patient with only mild joint damage. Symptoms can come and go, or often fluctuate for many people.
Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis that occur within joints:
- Stiffness that lasts less than 30 minutes
- Deep, aching pain
- Trouble dressing or gripping things
- Bending over
- Pain when walking
According to Grant Cooper,
Osteoarthritis pain is usually felt in the affected joint, for some patients the pain may be referred to other areas of the body. For example, hip osteoarthritis may lead to knee pain, or spinal osteoarthritis may affect nerves that cause pain, numbness or other symptoms in the part of the body that the nerve leads to.
When the hips or knees are affected, walking can be a significant source of pain, and accommodating pain may induce a limp. Pain can be felt in areas outside the damaged joints, including the buttocks, groin, or thigh and may vary in severity from a dull ache to sharp pain.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is different from osteoarthritis because RA is an autoimmune disease (immune system attacks the joints). This causes inflammation of the joints that causes redness, swelling, pain, and fever. RA can be quite difficult to diagnose.
According to Judith Frank, MD,
The diagnostic process can be challenging. There is no single lab test that definitively diagnoses RA, and the disease’s onset can vary significantly: one person can develop puffy, stiff wrist and finger joints over many months, while another person develops fatigue, fever, and a severely inflamed knee almost overnight.
Regardless, RA has its distinctive symptoms because it often affects the joints in the hand and wrist first. Other symptoms can appear in the balls of the feet, knees, ankles or other joints.
Common symptoms include painful joints that are:
- Stiff and difficult to bend or flex
- Warm to the touch
- Red in appearance
What is Psoriatic Arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the skin that causes psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that causes patchy, red and scaly skin, and joints( arthritis). This disease tends to affects the tips of the elbows and knees, the scalp, the navel, and skin around the genital areas or anus.
Only 10% to 30% of people with psoriasis will get psoriatic arthritis. This type of arthritis usually affects people within the age groups of 30 and 50, but it can start as early as childhood.
Symptoms of Psoriatic arthritis are:
- Swollen fingers, joints, and toes
- Fingernails that are pitted or discolored
- Back and shoulder pain
- Nail separation
It is important to seek medical attention from a medical professional so that he/she can assess your symptoms. Arthritis like any other disease is manageable, preventable and curable.
Arakelyan, Hayk. (2019). Types of Arthritis.
Grant Cooper, MD.(2010). What is osteoarthritis?
Judith Frank, MD (2016) symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.