Arthritis is a group of conditions that affect the joints. There are many, many different forms of arthritis, the most common of which being osteoarthritis which occurs naturally with wear and tear over time. The progression and severity of arthritis will also differ from person to person. While there is currently no “cure” for arthritis, accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment can help reduce symptoms and prevent damage to the joints.
Symptoms of Arthritis include:
– Pain and stiffness in the joints
– Joint Swelling
– Heat or redness in and around the joint
What’s the difference between rheumatoid arthrits and osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis describes damage to the joint cartilage that can occur naturally over time. It is caused by mechanical wear and tear and it primarily affects the large weight bearing joints such as the knees, hips and the spine. Age is the most common risk factor for osteoarthritis, being overweight, having a previous injury to the joint and certain occupations are also risk factors.
Rheumatoid arthritis on the other hand is caused by an autoimmune reaction in the body that primarily affects the joints. It can affect people of all ages. Although it primarily affects the joints, it is a systemic problem that can also affect other tissues and organs in the body and cause general feelings of fatigue and being unwell. In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks its own joints.
Management of Arthritis
An accurate diagnosis of the cause of joint pain is a good first step in management of arthritis.
Staying active without overloading the joints will help improve stiffness.
Gentle stretching and strength exercises are essential to protect the joints and delay damage caused by arthritis.
Pain management can be achieved through the use of ice or heat, gentle exercises and in certain cases massage and pain releiving gels.
Medication can also be effective and is usually prescribed by a GP or specialist and will depend on the type and severity of arthritis.