Arthritis causes, signs, treatment, and diet

Arthritis facts

  • Arthritis is inflammation of one or more joints.
  • Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints.
  • Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults.
  • A rheumatologist is a medical arthritis expert.
  • Earlier and accurate diagnosis can help to prevent irreversible damage and disability.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. A joint is an area of the body where two different bones meet. A joint functions to move the body parts connected by its bones. Arthritis literally means inflammation of one or more joints.

Arthritis is frequently accompanied by joint pain. Joint pain is referred to as arthralgia. When four or more joints are involved, the arthritis is referred to as polyarthritis. When two or three joints are involved, it is referred to as oligoarthritis. When only a single joint is involved, it is referred to as monoarthritis.

Arthritis causes, signs, treatment, and diet: How many types of arthritis exist?

There are many types of arthritis (over 100 identified, and the number is growing). The types of arthritis range from those related to wear and tear of cartilage (such as osteoarthritis) to those associated with inflammation resulting from an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis).

What causes arthritis?

The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to osteoarthritis), metabolic abnormalities (such as gout and pseudogout), hereditary factors, the direct and indirect effect of infections (bacterial and viral), and a misdirected immune system with autoimmunity (such as in rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).

Arthritis is classified as one of the rheumatic diseases. These are conditions that are different individual illnesses, with differing features, treatments, complications, and prognoses. They are similar in that they have a tendency to affect the joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons, and many have the potential to affect other internal body areas.

What are risk factors for arthritis?

The major risk factors for most forms of arthritis are genes that are inherited from ancestors. Trauma-related arthritis is related to the risk of injury from specific activities.

Arthritis causes, signs, treatment, and diet: Arthritis Symptoms

Joint pain can be caused by injury affecting any of the ligaments, bursae, or tendons surrounding the joint. Injury can also affect the ligaments, cartilage, and bones within the joint. Pain is also a feature of joint inflammation (arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis) and infection, and extremely rarely it can be a cause of cancer of the joint.

Symptoms and signs associated with joint pain can include

  • joint redness,
  • joint swelling,
  • joint tenderness,
  • joint warmth,
  • limping,
  • locking of the joint,
  • loss of range of motion of the joint,
  • stiffness,
  • weakness.

What are arthritis symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited function of joints. Joint inflammation from arthritis is characterized by joint stiffness, swelling, redness, pain, and warmth. Tenderness of the inflamed joint can be present with or without pain. When large joints are involved, such as the knee, there can be loss of cartilage with limitation of motion from the joint damage. When arthritis affects the small joints in fingers, there can be bone growth and loss of hand grip and grip strength of the hand.

Many of the forms of arthritis, because they are rheumatic diseases, can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Therefore, symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include fever, gland swelling (swollen lymph nodes), weight loss, fatigue, feeling unwell, and even symptoms from abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart, or kidneys.

Arthritis causes, signs, treatment, and diet: Who is affected by arthritis?

Arthritis sufferers include men and women, children and adults.

How do health care professionals diagnose arthritis? Why is a diagnosis important?

The first step in the diagnosis of arthritis is a meeting between the doctor and the patient. The doctor will review the history of symptoms, examine the joints for inflammation and deformity, as well as ask questions about or examine other parts of the body for inflammation or signs of diseases that can affect other body areas. Furthermore, certain blood, urine, joint fluid, and/or X-ray tests might be ordered. The diagnosis will be based on the pattern of symptoms, the distribution of the inflamed joints, and any blood and X-ray findings. Several visits may be necessary before the doctor can be certain of the diagnosis. A doctor with special training in arthritis and related diseases is called a rheumatologist (see below).

Many forms of arthritis are more of an annoyance than serious. However, millions of people suffer daily with pain and disability from arthritis or its complications.

Earlier and accurate diagnosis can help to prevent irreversible damage and disability. Properly guided programs of exercise and rest, medications, physical therapy, and surgery options can idealize long-term outcomes for those with arthritis. Exercise and exercise routines can be helpful in providing joint stability by strengthening the musculoskeletal system while improving balance. Physical therapists can provide the care needed for properly guided exercise regimens.

It should be noted that both before and especially after the diagnosis of arthritis, communication with the treating doctor is essential for optimal health. This is important from the standpoint of the doctor, so that he/she can be aware of the vagaries of the patient’s symptoms as well as their tolerance of and acceptance of treatments. It is important from the standpoint of patients, so that they can be assured that they have an understanding of the diagnosis and how the condition does and might affect them. It is also crucial for the safe use of medications.

Arthritis causes, signs, treatment, and diet: Is there an arthritis diet?

For most forms of arthritis, diets play little or no role in precipitating or exacerbating the condition. However, in general, oils of fish have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Some osteoarthritis suffers benefit from omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Some people with osteoarthritis feel they benefit from the curcumin that is present in curry foods.

Gout is a particular type of metabolic arthritis that is clearly diet-related. Foods that are high in purines, especially red meats and shellfish, can worsen the condition. Moreover, certain foods elevate the levels of uric acid, including alcohol (especially beer) and those foods containing high amounts of fructose (such as the corn syrup found in soft drinks). For people with celiac disease, gluten-containing foods (wheat, barley, rye) can worsen joint pains.

Arthritis causes, signs, treatment, and diet: Are there foods to avoid when you have arthritis?

With the exception of the unique metabolic form of arthritis in gout and celiac disease, there are no universally accepted foods that must be avoided by people with arthritis. Gout can be promoted and precipitated by dehydration as well as fructose-containing foods (corn syrup, etc.), high-purine foods (seafood, shellfish, organ meats), and alcoholic beverages (particularly beer). People with gout should avoid these foods. The arthritis of celiac disease can be worsened by intake of gluten-containing foods (wheat, barley, rye).