Published: Jun 29, 2010
The word Arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints. This condition is frequently accompanied with joint pain. Around 350 million people worldwide suffer from arthritis. Over 40 million people living in the United States have this disease and 60% of them are women.
The cause of arthritis can be an injury, abnormal metabolism, overactive immune system or infections. This condition can also be inherited. Arthritis causes individual joints to become stiff and swollen resulting in loss of range in motion and deformity. This results in pain and limited function of the joints. Millions of people suffer daily from arthritis and its related complications.
Because arthritis is a rheumatic disease, it can affect different parts of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Symptoms in some patients can include fever, weight loss, fatigue and even abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, heart or kidneys.
The treatment of arthritis depends on the joint location, severity, persistence and its form. Each treatment must be customized to the patient and background medical conditions are also considered by the physician. Home remedies, non prescription, prescription and surgical operations are some of the treatments often used by doctors on patients. The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and inflammation while preventing damage and ensuring that proper joint function is maintained.
The first step in arthritis treatment is rest and application of topical creams. Over the counter food supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin have also been helpful to some patients in the past. If patients don’t benefit from these supplements after a two month trial then the usage of these products should be discontinued. It has also been noted that fish oils have anti-inflammation properties so increasing fish in your diet or intake of fish oil capsules (omega-3 capsules) can sometimes reduce joint inflammation. Obesity has also been known as a risk factor for arthritis. Overweight patients have a tendency to develop arthritis in their knees. Weight reduction is often advised; even minor weight loss can be helpful.
Over the counter medications such as Tylenol can reduce pain and are often recommended to patients with mild arthritis. This is the preferred initial medication for elderly patients because it contains acetaminophen which has fewer side effects. Application of Pain relieving creams such as capsaicin, salycin, methyl salicylate, and menthol can also provide relief for arthritis patients.
Surgery is generally reserved for patients who suffer from sever arthritis after conservative treatment has failed. Osteotomy which is a bone removal process is often prescribed; this process realigns the deformity in joints and is usually best for patients with knee disease. If a joint is severely destroyed then it can be replaced with artificial material or Synovectomy can also be performed which is the removal of inflamed joint tissue.
Research clearly shows that treatment in early stages can reduce joint damage, deformity and disability. Good nutrition, exercise and general good health is recommended which can be helpful in preventing arthritis.