Arthritis is a common disease. It’s estimated that around the world over 350 million people have arthritis. And it becomes even more common the older you get. But even though arthritis is not an unusual disease to develop, it’s also not a simple disease to diagnose. There are hundreds of different kinds of arthritis.
And the causes of arthritis can range from the simple breaking down of joint tissue with age to severe autoimmune diseases. But even with all of these different types of arthritis, they all seem to have some symptoms in common. So what are the most common symptoms of arthritis? And what can you do to treat them?
Common Symptoms Of Arthritis
The most important of all the different symptoms of arthritis is joint pain. It can take the form of acute, stabbing pain, or simply a dull, aching throb.This is the symptom that doctors look for when diagnosing arthritis. But the type of joint pain you experience can vary widely among different kinds of arthritis. In most cases, the pain is most severe in the morning or after any period of rest when you aren’t using your joints.
In most cases, it’s accompanied by stiffness of the joints that makes them hard to move. This pain is the most obvious of the symptoms of arthritis and the surest sign that you’re suffering from the disease.
Though not every case of arthritis leads to swelling of the joints, many do. The inflammation of the tissue between the joints causes them to produce fluid that is visible underneath the skin and can cause intense pain in the affected joints. It can affect joints all over the body but is commonly seen in the fingers or the knees.
But one of the worst symptoms of arthritis has to be the joint deformity that sometimes comes with the disease. It’s most common in cases of rheumatoid arthritis when the tissue between the joints begins to harden and quickly destroys the tissue of the joints. As a result, the joints begin to lose their shape and your fingers or toes can end up becoming deformed. They stick out at unnatural angles and lose their strength, making someone with severe joint deformation unable to use their hands or feet normally.
In cases of arthritis caused by autoimmune disease, you might experience fevers, chronic fatigue, and muscle weakness.
Luckily, with proper treatment, many of these severe symptoms of arthritis can be avoided or at least managed.
How Are They Treated?
The first step in treating the symptoms of arthritis is finding a way to reduce inflammation. The inflammation caused by arthritis is the most frequent cause of permanent damage to the joints and so doctors treat it as the biggest priority when it comes to treatment. Luckily, there are a number of medications you can use for treating inflammation.
First, your doctor might prescribe standard over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen. These drugs dull pain by blocking the receptors in your brain that interpret painkillers. But they also have the added benefit of belonging to a class of drugs called NSAIDs. NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, target and reduce the inflammation caused by arthritis. This leads to less swelling in the joints and thus less permanent damage.
But if NSAIDs aren’t enough, you can also try corticosteroids. Corticosteroids use a type of hormone found naturally in the body to fight inflammation. These hormones suppress the activity of the immune system and help regulate the fluid in your body, which prevents it from swelling up in the joints. Typically, they are produced in your adrenal glands but you can also get higher doses of synthetic corticosteroids to help treat the type of autoimmune disease that sometimes leads to the symptoms of arthritis.
Finally, if these drugs aren’t able to help with your symptoms or if your arthritis goes untreated long enough, you may have to turn to joint replacement surgery. Essentially, joint replacement surgery consists of fashioning a plastic replacement joint which can take the place of the eroded tissue. This smooth plastic allows your joints to move against it without pain in the same way the tissue in a healthy joint does. Obviously, this kind of invasive surgery is not ideal, but it can become necessary if the symptoms of arthritis progress too far to respond to normal treatment.
But tell us, do you suffer from arthritis? What are your symptoms? What works for you in terms of treatment? Let us know in the comments section below.