What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints caused by inflammation in the joint (Yin et al., 2019). This condition can affect people of any age, including children, teenagers, and younger individuals. Simply, arthritis means inflammation of one or multiple joints. Arthritis symptoms generally arise gradually over time, although they can occasionally appear suddenly. Arthritis develops more often in obese patients and more often in women than in men.
What Are The Different Types of Arthritis?
Around 200 conditions affecting joints, surrounding tissues, and other connective tissue can qualify as arthritis. But the two most common forms of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Each type of arthritis produces different symptoms and requires different treatments.
Osteoarthritis refers to the most prevalent joint condition in the USA. Symptomatic knee osteoarthritis affects around 10% of men and 13% of women over the age of 60 (Kidd, Langford, & Wodehouse, 2007). This condition often develops in people in their mid-40s or older and more common in women and people with a family history of the condition. Initially, osteoarthritis affects the smooth cartilage that covers the end of the joint. This causes the cartilage break down and makes mobility more difficult than normal, resulting in stiffness and discomfort. This ultimately results in the swelling and the formation of bony spurs, known as osteophytes. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the joints of the hand, spikes, hips, and knees.
Rheumatoid arthritis refers to an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the tissue lining of the joints. Later, this condition spreads across to the joints and changes the joint’s shape. This condition causes severe pain and swelling of the joint along with various problems with the other organs of the body. In the USA, rheumatoid arthritis affects almost 1.5 million Americans. Studies reported that rheumatoid arthritis affects women 3 times higher than men (Tayar & Suarez-Almazor, 2010). Other types of arthritis may include gout, lupus, ankylosing spondylitis, cervical spondylosis, fibromyalgia, facet arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, septic arthritis, thumb arthritis, etc.
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis?
The most common symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joint. This condition also decreases the range of motion and causes redness of the skin around the joint. Patients with arthritis experience these symptoms usually in the morning. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, a patient may feel a loss of appetite because of the inflammation produced by the immune system. Severe rheumatoid arthritis also causes joint deformity and makes the patient anemic by decreasing the red blood cell count.
What Are The Causes Of Arthritis?
Possible causes of arthritis may include (Kahlenberg & Fox, 2011):
- Family history of having arthritis (osteoarthritis)
- Dysfunction of the immune system (rheumatoid arthritis)
- Abnormal metabolism (gout and pseudogout)
- Physical injury (degenerative arthritis)
- Infections (arthritis due to Lyme disease)
Several risk factors for arthritis may include hereditary, old age, obesity, sex, history of joint injury, specific occupation, etc. In the United States, more than half of individuals with arthritis have high blood pressure. Also, around one-fifth of individuals with arthritis smoke in the USA.
How Do Spinal Specialists Diagnose Arthritis?
Initial diagnosis of arthritis includes a direct physical examination of joints. During this examination, the physician will look after the joints to check for any swelling, redness, warmth, and mobility. In the case of any special care, physicians can refer to a spinal specialist. Depending on the type of arthritis suspected, spinal specialists may ask the patient to perform several tests. These includes:
- Laboratory test: This includes extraction and analysis of different body fluids, such as blood, urine, and joint fluid, to determine the type of arthritis. Physicians look after specific types of antibodies, such as RF (rheumatoid factor), ANA (antinuclear antibody), and anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide) for confirmatory diagnosis.
- Imaging tests: This includes various imaging scans, such as MRI, Ct scans, X-rays, and ultrasound to detect problems within the joints, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures near the joints.
How Do Spinal Specialists Treat Arthritis?
Treatment for arthritis focuses on symptom relief and joint function improvement. Physicians suggest trying a few different therapies or combinations of treatments to find the best one for the patients. Treatment procedures of arthritis may include (Jönsson, Dahlberg, Dell´Isola, & Ekvall Hansson, 2019):
- Medications: Depending on the type of arthritis, physicians suggest a wide range of medications for recovery. These include pain-killer, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), counter-irritants, biologic response modifiers, etc. to alleviate the pain.
- Physical therapy: This includes light exercises to improve range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding joints. Therapists also help to adjust the daily activities to lessen the arthritic pain.
- Steroid injections: This helps temporarily to relieve the pain and inflammation of the joint.
If all of the above options fail, spinal specialists will refer to the neurosurgeon for surgery. Surgical options for arthritis include joint fusion, joint repair, and joint replacement, such as hip replacement, ankle replacement, shoulder replacement, and knee replacement. Please contact us for any query.
Jönsson, T. S., Dahlberg, L. E., Dell´Isola, A., & Ekvall Hansson, E. (2019). Better management of patients with osteoarthritis – evidence based education and exercise delivered nationwide in Sweden. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, 27, S497. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.joca.2019.02.555
Kahlenberg, J. M., & Fox, D. A. (2011). Advances in the medical treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Hand Clinics, 27(1), 11–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hcl.2010.09.002
Kidd, B. L., Langford, R. M., & Wodehouse, T. (2007). Current approaches in the treatment of arthritic pain. Arthritis Research and Therapy, 9(3), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1186/ar2147
Tayar, J. H., & Suarez-Almazor, M. E. (2010). New understanding and approaches to treatment in rheumatoid arthritis. British Medical Bulletin, 94(1), 201–214. https://doi.org/10.1093/bmb/ldq007
Yin, X., Cheng, F., Wang, X., Mu, J., Ma, C., Zhai, C., & Wang, Q. (2019). Top 100 cited articles on rheumatoid arthritis A bibliometric analysis. Medicine (United States), 98(8), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000014523