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The Complete Guide to Arthritis: Signs, Symptoms, and Recovery

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can attack areas all over the body, such as the back, spine, hands, and feet. This article will explore all aspects of this disease, including its symptoms, causes of arthritis, prevention, and treatment.

Defining Arthritis

Defining Arthritis image - (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

Defining Arthritis

The term ‘arthritis’ is used to describe 200 diseases of the joints and connective tissue (1). The types of arthritis vary, but there are some primary symptoms. It is an illness that is associated with discomfort and inflammation in the joints, stiffness, and reduced flexibility and mobility. The effects may be mild, moderate, or severe. 

The symptoms tend to get worse as you get older and can lead to significant problems in daily functioning. This problem is more common in women (2). The arthritis foundation states that some types can lead to other serious medical conditions in the body, including the lungs, kidneys, heart, and eyes.

Why Does Arthritis Develop?

To some extent, the causes of arthritis depend on the type of arthritis you suffer from. Generally speaking, one of the main causes is an injury that develops into a degenerative condition. Sometimes the disease develops a long time after the original injury. Also, abnormalities in your metabolism can cause some types of arthritis to build (1).

There are also genetic factors involved. If a close relative like a parent has arthritis, there’s a good chance that you will too. The types of arthritis, like rheumatoid, come from a dysfunction in the immune system. Finally, infections like Lyme Disease can cause arthritis to develop (1).

According to the Mayo Clinic, another factor that can exacerbate or even cause arthritis is obesity. This is particularly true of the knees, spine, and hips. The extra weight puts too much pressure on the joints, eventually leading to damage. If you want to know how to prevent it, losing a few pounds is a good start.
Arthritis overview

Arthritis Symptoms

Some of the early symptoms of arthritis include joint pain and stiffness, limping, fatigue, limited range of motion, redness or swelling in the joints, warmth or tenderness in the joints, anemia, fever, and depression. If you experience any of these symptoms, go to your doctor immediately and see if you can begin treatment. If you’re wondering how to prevent arthritis, you should know that you have a lot of options (3).

Arthritis Varieties

There are about 200 different types of arthritis, but some are more common and well-known than others. Here of some of the primary forms of the disease.

  • Osteoarthritis – This type of arthritis affects the cartilage that protects the end of your bones. It occurs when there’s degradation, and the cartilage breaks down. This condition is incurable, but there are treatments that can help you manage it. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis (4).
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – This is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system launches an attack on body tissue, leading to inflammation of the joints. In addition, it can cause harm to other parts of the body like the skin, heart, blood vessels, and lungs. This condition impacts the lining of the joints, and the degradation can cause permanent damage to the joints and cartilage (5).
  • Psoriatic Arthritis – Psoriasis is a disease that causes red patches with silver marks inside them. The condition leads to joint pain, stiffness, and inflammation in any area of your body. There’s no cure for this disease, you can simply control it with treatment (6).
  • Septic Arthritis – With septic arthritis, there’s an infection in the joint or an injury which delivers bacteria to the joint area. It’s painful and can lead to damage in the bone and cartilage. This condition occurs in older people or babies most frequently. It can happen in the knees, hips, and shoulders (7).
  • Reactive Arthritis – This condition occurs when you have an infection in your body which travels to the joints. According to the Mayo Clinic, it most frequently targets the ankles, feet, or knees and can also impact the eyes, skin, and urethra. This condition is curable and is usually gone within a year.
  • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis – This condition occurs in children under the age of 16. It leads to joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. Juvenile arthritis can be a lifelong condition, or it can last for a shorter period of time. It can cause other health issues like growth problems and eye swelling (8).
Arthritis Types and Prevention info

Prevention of Arthritis

1. Medicine

There are several different medical solutions for the prevention of arthritis. Your physician may prescribe Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that will lessen the discomfort and inflammation you experience. 

There are also analgesics, which lessen pain but do not affect the swelling. Creams that include menthol or capsaicin to prevent pain are also used, and these are called counterirritants. Some conditions may require immunosuppressant medication like biologics or corticosteroids to lessen swelling, especially if you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (9).

2. Non-Medicinal Treatments

There are some natural methods on how to prevent it beyond medication. You are advised to eat foods rich in anti-inflammatory agents to lessen swelling. This includes fish, beans, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid tomatoes and nightshade vegetables as they can worsen your condition.

It’s also important to exercise when you have arthritis, although you should do low-impact activities. This will strengthen the muscles that support the joints. According to Harvard Health Publishing, exercise is a very effective way to get rid of joint pain. Balance your physical activity with relaxation so your joints get some rest. 

You should also make sure you sleep well every night, as this can help lessen symptoms. Finally, protect your joints from further injury by avoiding lifting heavy things or trying to open bottles. Make sure you manage your lifestyle, so you don’t do more harm.

3. Physical Treatments

There are a few physical therapies that can be helpful to the condition. You can do a course of treatment with a physical therapist. It involves exercises tailored to your case to strengthen your muscles and joints. Different types of arthritis will have a different treatment plan.

You may also meet with an occupational therapist, who will focus on making your daily life easier with tools and equipment that will help you carry out tasks without damaging the joints.

There is also water therapy, where you do exercises in a warm pool to strengthen the muscles and joints without putting too much pressure. 

Exercises in a warm pool

4. Organic Remedies

There are many natural supplements on the market with organic ingredients that ease the symptoms. These may include natural substances like turmeric, ginger, Boswellia serrata, garlic, and green tea. It is a good natural alternative if you don’t want prescription pain pills, as many of them are very effective.

Helpful Suggestions

There are some daily choices you can make that will improve your arthritis symptoms. If you want to know how to prevent arthritis, the prime factor is to follow a healthy lifestyle. One risk factor is being overweight. It can put a lot of extra pressure on your joints, and often does lead to arthritis. Eat a healthy diet high in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. Include fatty fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.

It’s also important to exercise because it strengthens your muscles and joints. Do low-impact workouts that will not damage your joints, such as going for a walk or swimming. This can do a lot towards lessening your pain.

Make sure you keep in touch with your medical team to keep them apprised of any new symptoms or treatments that you want to try.

What to Stay Away from Arthritis

When you have arthritis, you should avoid any movements that involve squatting or bending your knee. Jobs that have these types of tasks often lead to the development of osteoarthritis. Tailor your exercise program to avoid such motions.

Another thing to avoid is injury. True, it’s sometimes hard to prevent, but make a conscious effort to use railings and other helpful tools. Do not attempt to carry anything heavy or reach for something. You don’t want to worsen your symptoms.

There are certain foods that people should avoid. These include sugars, processed foods, refined carbohydrates, high-fat dairy, and omega-6 fatty acids. Also, tomatoes are known to be bad for arthritis symptoms.

Diet for arthritis

Questions People Ask

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis that affects 303 million people around the world (10). It occurs when the cartilage begins to break down, leading to discomfort and inflammation. It usually impacts the knee, spine, hands, and hips. A review in osteoarthritis and cartilage found that this is a serious disease with an increasing incidence around the world.

Arthritis can be a genetic condition. However, it can also occur because of an injury that becomes exacerbated. Other causes of arthritis include obesity and old age. 

You should eat foods that are high in anti-inflammatory properties, like fatty fish, whole grains, nuts, berries, and many other fruits. This will help lessen the swelling associated with your condition.

Yes, you should do a regular physical activity a few times a week for half an hour, at least. Try for low impact workouts that won’t damage your joints. 

Most forms of arthritis will not necessarily shorten the lifespan. There’s a chance that sufferers may have their life span shortened by about 10-15 years because the condition can affect other organs (11). However, this is not necessarily the case.

Conclusion

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that comes in about 200 different forms, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and reactive arthritis. The causes of arthritis include genetics, injury, obesity, and metabolic abnormalities. 

If you want to know how to prevent arthritis, there are a few things you can do. Lose the additional weight, exercise, sleep well, try physiotherapy, medication, or take a natural supplement. These methods should all ease symptoms and make your life easier.

Although it is a serious condition, there are so many methods for treatment and prevention that you can control your symptoms and live a good quality of life. There’s reason to be optimistic about your options.

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