Arthritis refers to joint inflammation and is in fact not a single disease but a group of conditions which lead to stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints.
The fear and apprehension sets in, when we start getting those recurrent joint pains We are unable to relate the pain to any recent injury and wonder whether we should visit the doc or will the discomfort go away on its own?
Well, arthritis is a condition associated with many myths and misconceptions and the onset of the disease may often be quite confusing. It can begin with the well-defined symptoms of arthritis (redness, swelling, stiffness, and pain in one or more joints) or can appear to be more subtle, allowing even more vague symptoms and clouded diagnosis.
Although there are many types of arthritis, the following signs point towards Arthritis-
· Joint stiffness
· Tenderness in and around the joint
· Limited range of motion in one or more joints
· Redness and warmth around the affected joint
If you have the listed symptoms and do not remember injuring yourself, then go and meet the physician. The doctor will review the history of symptoms, examine the joints for inflammation and deformity, as well as even examine other parts of the body for inflammation. Furthermore, certain blood, urine, joint fluid, and/or X-ray tests might also be ordered.
The following questions may be asked to help identify the cause of your joint pain-
- Which joint hurts? Is the pain on one side or both sides?
- How long have you been having this pain? Have you had it before?
- Did this pain begin suddenly and severely, or slowly and mildly?
- Is the pain constant or does it come and go? Has the pain become more severe?
- What started your pain?
- Have you injured your joint?
- Have you had an illness or fever?
- Does resting the joint reduce the pain or make it worse?
- Does moving the joint reduce the pain or make it worse?
- Are certain positions comfortable? Does keeping the joint elevated help?
- Do medications, massage, or applying heat reduce the pain?
- What other symptoms do you have?
- Is there any numbness?
- Can you bend and straighten the joint? Does the joint feel stiff?
- Are your joints stiff in the morning? If so, how long does the stiffness last?
- What makes the stiffness better?
X rays and MRI s may be ordered to help the diagnosis and based on the cumulative results of physical examination, X ray reports and medical history analysis, if you or your relative have actually been diagnosed with arthritis, then Read on to know more about Arthritis.
So, you already know that the two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. But do you know the difference between their symptoms and distinguishing characteristics? Let’s find out.
1) Rheumatoid Arthritis Basics:
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, inflammatory type of arthritis and is also classified as an autoimmune disease (immune cells attack the body’s own healthy tissues). Though the joints are primarily affected by rheumatoid arthritis, there may be systemic effect on other body parts or organs as well. Common theories which determine the cause of RA point to a genetic predisposition and a triggering event. A combination of test results, a clinical examination, and patient medical history together can help determine a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
· A few key distinguishing indicators are -Morning stiffness lasting more than an hour, involvement of the small bones of the hands and feet, extreme fatigue, rheumatoid nodules, and symmetrical joint involvement (i.e. both knees not one knee).
Each individual patient is evaluated by their rheumatologist and a treatment plan with arthritic medicines as the primary course is agreed upon. Along with medication, Dietary modifications and some forms of complementary treatment or local injections may also help relieve pain.
2) Osteoarthritis Basics
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative or wear and tear disease, predominantly affecting the joints, unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which may have systemic effects. The most common symptom associated with osteoarthritis is pain in the affected joint after repeated use with joint pain often getting worse later in the day. This type of arthritis results from the breakdown of cartilage (a cushion like structure in between the joints) in one or more of the joints. As we age, the water content of cartilage increases while protein composition of cartilage degenerates and this acts as a cause of OA, in addition to other risk factors like- injury, being over weight and family history.
- The key distinguishing indicators would be that the affected joints can swell, feel warm, and become stiff after prolonged inactivity. Bone spurs and bony enlargements are also characteristic features.
The treatment options for osteoarthritis focus on relieving pain and restoring function to the affected joint. Physical treatments ( weight reduction, exercise, heat fomentations, rest) , medications (anti inflammatory or pain killers), dietary modifications with supplements and at times, even surgical treatments like arthroscopy or joint replacement are advised.
Nutrition to Relieve Arthritic pain
A right diet with right mix of nutrients is good for all but more so for arthritic patients. For example, if you are overweight and suffer from arthritis, one of the most important things you can do to help yourself is to try bringing your weight closer to the ideal range by changing the amount and type of food you eat. Being overweight puts an extra burden on the weight-bearing joints (back, hips, knees, ankles and feet) when they are already damaged or under strain. Because of the way joints work, the pressure in your knee joints is 5–6 times your body weight when you walk. Even a small weight loss can make a big difference to your joint and the associated symptoms.
Here are some guidelines that may help.
- Include omega 3 fatty acids in the diet. Oily fish – such as cod liver oil supplements, tuna, salmon, and sardines or nuts like almonds and walnuts help
- Vitamin C acts an anti oxidant and reduces inflammation- found in many foods such as kiwifruit, peaches, oranges.
- Turmeric and ginger – anti-inflammatory foods (may be used in curries, soups, or stews).
- Some reports point that a vegetarian or vegan diet helps, so cut down on meats and whole eggs.
§ Some report that vegetables from the solanum (or nightshade) family cause problems – potatoes, capsicums, eggplant, and tomatoes. You may avoid them and see if you experience any difference.
§ Avoid Foods high in saturated fat – such as full-fat dairy, fatty meat, baked foods and those which are high in salt and sugar content.
§ Regular exercise helps in better blood circulation and keeps joints active.
§ Ayurvedic herbs like Mahayoga raj guggul helps