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Arthritis – Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Updated on May 16, 2010
Arthritis can affect spine, hip, knee, hands, and foot joints.
Arthritis can affect spine, hip, knee, hands, and foot joints.

The term arthritis means inflammation of joint marked by pain, warmth, redness, and swelling of the joint in which it has occurred. Arthritis includes a number of rheumatic diseases and ailments. Arthritis can affect both men and women of all ages but is most predominant in aging people.

Types of Arthritis:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: It is one of the most prevalent and disabling joint deformity also known as systemic inflammatory disorder. Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the synovial joints.
  • Septic Arthritis: Can affect people of any age and refers to an infection in the joint usually caused by bacteria.
  • Gouty Arthritis: Occurs in males between 40 and 50 years of age and may be associated with elevation of blood uric acid.
  • Traumatic Arthritis: Is due to trauma or shock from a direct or indirect injury to the joint.
  • Osteoarthritis: Is caused by wear and tear of joint due to prolonged use and is most prevalent in women than men. Osteoarthritis is also related to aging and longevity.
  • Reactive Arthritis: Is referred to an inflammatory joint response to infection. This is an autoimmune disorder and includes inflammation of the eyes and inflammation of the joints.

Symptoms of Arthritis

  • Pain is the most common symptom, which usually prompts the patients to seek medical attention.
  • Other symptoms of arthritis include limited range of motion, skin redness around the joints, joint stiffness, etc.

Diagnosis of Arthritis

For diagnosis, an orthopedic doctor begins with the general history of the patient, including onset of symptoms and how they have evolved. The doctor also asks questions about family history and hereditary history as well as other factors and performs physical examination and functional assessment of the involved joint. The history and physical assessment is complemented by:

  • X-rays
  • Laboratory tests.
  • Ultrasound.
  • MRIs.
  • Examination of fluid obtained from the affected joint.

Treatment of Arthritis

Treatment of arthritis depends on the origin of arthritis but usually includes measures such as controlling inflammation by use of:

  • Antibiotics.
  • Heat.
  • Ice packs.
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs that modify the course of the arthritic process.

Also physicians can provide non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for severe conditions. Also the patient can be referred to physical therapy for rehabilitation and if needed surgical procedures can be performed to correct the deformed joints to relieve pain and regain function.

Also, orthopedic specialists use second line drugs like methotrexate, penicillamine, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, and azathioprine for the treatment of osteoarthritis. Arthritis is also treated by exercise and an arthritic patient must participate in a regular exercise program to get rid of the long-term consequences of arthritis.

Also, there are many other ways to improve some types of arthritis. For example, sexual activity can stimulate the adrenal glands to produce more corticosteroid, a hormone that reduces joint swelling and pain in arthritis. It is also believed that sexual activity can release endorphins, which help in the recovery process or rehabilitation of an arthritic patient.

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    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      I think the first line of drug should be prednisone which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and corticosteroid. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like methotrexate come next.

    • FCEtier profile image

      Chip 

      8 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Soni,

      Did you look into the use of methotrexate and Plaquenil?

      Would you recommend prednisone over NSAID's?

      Thanks!

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes you are right Ethel. I have experienced that not with arthritis but with kidney stones. When I was suffering from this problem it was me who was suffering because of pain and all other people were enjoying their life. Same is the case with arthritis or any other condition. A man who has pain is the one who suffers the most because it is our body and we are carrying it. Others will just give some sympathy and nothing else, so we need to protect our body on our own so that we try that these type of problems do not come.

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Arthritis is terrible. It affects so many in different ways and is often thought nothing much to trouble about by those who do not suffer. Hope you know what I mean

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Dear U Neek, I have heard about sexual activity from a doctor here in India. It was when I took my grandmother to hospital due to her severe arthritic condition and pain. I need to research about this way of treating arthritis. I think this can help patients. I will come up with the details. Thanks for reading this hub in great detail.

    • U Neek profile image

      U Neek 

      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      I've had osteo arthritis for years and it is very painful. My doctor has tried several different drug therapies, but the anti-inflammatories seem to work best. I had never heard of sexual activity as a treatment!

    • soni2006 profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Yes there are a lot of old people around me who suffer from arthritis. It is one of the most common disabling condition in the world. A person suffering from severe arthritic pain is sometimes not able to even stand up and move around and is limited to bed.

    • Veronica Allen profile image

      Veronica Allen 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      My poor grandmother suffers from this condition. I tell you Sonni - it really puts her in her bed sometimes. Very informative.

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