Arthritis, an umbrella term used for joint disorder consisting of more than hundred different diseases, takes conception from the wear and tear of joints, inflammation, infection or an injury. Joint pain is characterized by stiffness and painful movement in the spine, feet, fingers, knees or hips. Since the human body has one hundred joints connecting over two hundred bones, the probability of occurrence of joint pain, especially at the onset of old age, is magnified. The most prevalent form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which results from the degeneration of the joint cartilage and the underlying bone as aging sets in. After osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout assume the second and third position in terms of frequency of occurrence in an individual, with rheumatoid arthritis inflicting a higher percentage of women, and gout inflicting a higher percentage of men.
Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative arthritis, occurs when the joint cartilage that serves as a cushion between both the ends of a joint breaks down, allowing contact of both the ends of the bone. This generates a multitude of problems, including severe agony, swelling, stiffness and loss of movement. Aging, heredity, and injury from trauma or disease contribute to osteoarthritis in an individual. Osteoarthritis resulting from a natural aging of the joint is called primary osteoarthritis. Arthritis emanating from obesity, surgery to the joint structures, congenital abnormalities, repeated trauma, hormone disorder, diabetes or gout is known as secondary osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system of a human body malfunctions, causing inflammation and swelling in the joint lining, cartilage and bones. It impacts the body in a symmetrical demeanor, for instance impacting either both the wrists or both the hands.
The source of gout is the accumulation of uric acid in the joint, in the form of crystals, causing inflammation in the knees, the wrist or the toe. Gout is also exacerbated by consumption of a certain diet, use of certain drugs or certain characteristics prevalent in an individual’s heredity. An array of arthritis types can ail an individual during the course of his life, including fibromayalgia, pseudogout, ankylosing spondalytis, infectious arthritis, juvenile arthritis, psoriatic arthritis etc.
Several measures can be taken to mitigate the occurrence of chronic joint pain. Medications most commonly used to treat arthritis are called non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs, and include aspirin, ibuprofen and naprosyn. A means of prevention rather than cure, to prolong the onset of arthritis amongst adults, is through engaging in routine exercise, which plays a crucial role in enhancing muscular strength and flexibility. However care must be taken as to prevent over exertion, which can be detrimental in straining the joint. Rather than following structural exercising programs, low impact aerobic exercise such as swimming or cycling must be pursued. Therapeutic exercises involving exposure to heat or cold, for instance through sauna baths or usage of hot towels can act as counter irritants, relax the joint and alleviate the pain and the stiffness that joint pain generates. In addition, preventing obesity from burdening the body by maintaining fitness liberates the bones from being weighed down, reducing the stress on the joints. The body weight must be maintained through good nutrition containing iron, calcium, fish oils, vegetables, fresh fruit, cereals and nutritional supplements.
Early diagnosis of arthritis can assuage the long term complications that hamper the day to day functioning of individuals who suffer from it. Hence seeking a physician must not be postponed and self management techniques such as exercise or assistive devices such as canes must be deployed, for a healthier life.