Arthritis affects more than 10 million people in the UK, both adults and children. It is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint.
If you are experiencing joint pain and wondering if it could be arthritis, keep reading.
There are many types of arthritis and conditions that cause joint inflammation. Two of the most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis affecting approximately 9 million people in the UK. It’s most common in people over 40 but can occur at any age as a result of an injury or in association with another joint-related condition.
To begin with, Osteoarthritis starts to affect the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement difficult and leads to pain and stiffness. This causes the cartilage lining to become rough and thin out. When this happens the tendons and the ligaments have to work harder which causes swelling and the formation of bony modules called osteophytes.
When the loss of cartilage becomes severe it leads to bone rubbing on bone and forces the bones out of their natural position.
The most common joints affected are the knees, hands, spine and hips.
Rheumatoid Arthritis affects approximately 400,000 people in the UK. It affects 3 times more women than men and usually, symptoms start between the ages of 40 and 50 years old. With Rheumatoid Arthritis the body’s immune system begins to attack the joints causing pain and swelling. This begins in the synovium, the outer layer of the joint. It can then spread across the joint causing swelling and a change in shape which can lead to bone and cartilage breakdown.
Rheumatoid Arthritis can also begin to affect other tissues and organs in the body.
There are many other types of arthritis that you can learn more about here.
Symptoms of arthritis
The symptoms you experience will depend on the type of arthritis you have but the most common symptoms are as follows:
- Joint pain and tenderness
- Joint stiffness
- Inflammation in and around the joint
- Movement of the joint is restricted
- The skin over the joint is red
- Weakness in the joint or muscle wasting in the limb.
If you experience any of these symptoms, keep a diary for a few weeks to show your doctor. Note down any other symptoms even if you think they aren’t relevant, These can include fever, fatigue or a rash. This can help your doctor get a clearer picture of what is happening.
Your doctor will examine the joint, your pain and the range of motion. They will ask about your medical history and will likely order blood tests to help establish a diagnosis.
Getting an accurate diagnosis is an important step in diagnosing and treating arthritis early.
Again, the treatment of arthritis depends on the type of arthritis. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do to improve symptoms and slow the progress of the condition. These include lifestyle changes, medications including pain relief and anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy and surgery.
Following a diagnosis of arthritis, it’s important to seek support, both emotional and physical if needed.
Learn as much as you can about your condition. This will help you to manage the symptoms and progression of it.
Ask family and friends for support with things you now find difficult to manage.
If you need more support at home on a daily basis Eximius can help.