Mysuru: Arthritis cannot be cured permanently but can be controlled. If not treated timely can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility of the limbs.
Every year October 12 is recognised as the World Arthritis Day to spread awareness about the causes, diagnosis and treatment of arthritis said Dr K N Sangeetha, Consultant Rheumatologist, Columbia Asia Hospital.
“Arthritis is a disorder which is exponentially increasing these days, may be because of the real increase in the disease or early diagnosis. Arthritis is a term used to denote inflammation of joints. It is heralded by joint pain associated with swelling and stiffness. Joint pain should not be neglected. If not treated early, it can cripple the person. The disease is predominantly seen in women than in men. Early diagnosis and treatment is the need of the hour” added Dr Sangeetha.
She also mentioned that the disease can progress very rapidly, causing swelling and damage to the joints.
“Any joint may be affected but it is common in the small joints of hands, feet, wrists, shoulders, knees and ankles. Spine can also be affected, predominantly in spondyloarthropathies, psoriasis and in long standing, poorly treated Rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking is undoubtedly an important factor in causing arthritis. Daily exercise, walking, reduction of body weight could bring down the pain of arthritis” added Dr Sangeetha.
Symptoms: Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion. It can also be seen as a part of other systemic autoimmune diseases. It can also manifest as spindle like swelling of one or few digits. When spine is involved, it manifests as lower backache / buttock pain, severe after rest and early morning stiffness.
Causes: There are various types of arthritis. Two common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which can damage joints in different ways. Others like gouty arthritis , psoriatic arthritis , spondylo arthropathy, reactive arthritis are less common. Infections also can cause arthritis , of which the well known one is Chikungunya arthritis .
The most common arthritis is Osteoarthritis which involves wear and tear damage to joint cartilage- the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion but more damage can result in bone grinding which can cause pain and restrict movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years and can also affect the entire joint. In Rheumatoid arthritis the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the point. It can involve other systems like lungs, nerves , skin , eyes etc , if not treated early and adequately.
Risk factors: There are various risk factors for arthritis which include sedentary lifestyle, family history, age, excessive alcohol consumption, previous joint injuries and obesity. Severe arthritis particularly if it affects hands or arms can make it difficult to do daily routines. Arthritis of weight bearing joints can keep you from walking comfortably or sitting up straight. In some cases joints may become twisted and deformed.
Who are affected: Arthritis can occur in any age, gender, race, irrespective of socio economic conditions. However there are types of arthritis which are often seen in higher social economic conditions. Overall, arthritis is common among females. Hence, it is highly recommended not to neglect a joint pain and get yourself diagnosed and treated as early as possible for the best results and a healthy and happy lifestyle.
General measures: Apart from pain killers and disease modifying drugs, there are other measures to improve quality of life. Pain in arthritis is severe in the morning and in cold climate. Pain promptly reduces on application on warmth. Hence, hot packs / dipping hands / feet in hot water / hot shower helps reduction of pain. If joints are warm as in acute arthritis,pain reduces on application of cold packs.
Exercise also helps reduction of pain, but it is not advisable when in acute pain. In case of swelling of multiple joints, wax bath is helpful and is provided in physiotherapy settings.
Covid and arthritis: As per the preliminary data on COVID and Rheumatological diseases, it has been found that the prevalence among patients with Rheumatological diseases and that of normal population remains same. The precautions to be taken in patients with Rheumatological diseases are the same as for general population.
– Team Mysoorunews