Joints of the body are the tools provided by nature to carry out one’s daily chores and earn bread and butter.
But when these joints become swollen and painful it is agonizing for the sufferer and he or she loses his working efficiency also.
Arthritis is a condition in which joints become swollen, inflamed and painful, causing much suffering and difficulty in working.
There are many types of arthritis involving different joints and occur due to various causes.
Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly involves the small joints of the body mostly hands and feet. It is hereditary, common in young women, but can occur in other age groups and gender also. Along with pain, one has stiffness of joints more so in the morning.
It is a multisystem disease. Heart, lungs, eyes, throat, e.t.c. various parts of the body are damaged by rheumatoid arthritis.
A similar rhyming name but entirely different form of arthritis is, “rheumatic arthritis.” This is caused as a reaction to the infection by bacteria called Beta hemolytic streptococci.
This occurs commonly in young adolescents more in males from poor socio-economic conditions. The involvement of joints is, “flitting”, i.e. joints are affected one after another mostly affecting large joints like knee and shoulders. The sequel to it is, permanent damage to heart valves, therefore early therapeutic intervention is must.
Another troublesome and crippling arthritis is ankylosing spondylitis. This disease occurs because of a chromosomal defect during birth. The back bone bears the brunt of the disease.
Initially there is pain the upper back. Gradually there is stiffness of the back which increases progressively, thus further aggravating the pain. As the disease progresses it cripples the sufferer.
Gout is a variant of arthritis which involves the great toe earliest, followed by other toes, joints of foot, ankle and knee. Young adults especially men are more affected. It occurs because of increased uric acid levels in the blood.
Old people suffer from arthritis in more than one way. As age advances stiffness of joints sets in, producing many problems.
Softening of the bones or osteoporosis augments the suffering. Shoulders become stiff, what is known as, “frozen shoulder syndrome”.
It occurs in both genders. It is a degenerative change occurring because of wear and tear in the joint. The stiffness and pain increase gradually to the extent that one finds it difficult to do small things like combing or pulling up the zip at the back of the dress.
Another joint to bear the brunt of degenerative changes with increasing age is the knee. Osteoarthritis affects the weight bearing joints of the body mostly the knees and hips and occurs mostly around 60 years or more.
Infectious germs can affect the joints, producing pain, swelling and redness of the joint along with high fever. Any joint can be involved in, “infectious arthritis”. It can occur in any age or gender. This form of arthritis sets in acutely, but responds very well to suitable antibiotics.
In all variants of arthritis, medicines provide only temporary relief. Relapses are common. The time interval between relapses is variable depending on various factors. These factors are, severity of arthritis, nature of physical work being done by the individual, nutritional level and osteoporosis, alcoholism, smoking, co-existing metabolic disorders like diabetes, amount of exercise and rest taken by the affected person.
Consuming too many pain killers is harmful for arthritis. Any pain relieving medicine leads to chronic gastritis, gastric ulceration and even kidney failure when taken for a long time. Therefore a person suffering from arthritis should be discouraged from taking pain killers.
He or she should be explained that these medicines when taken would provide relief for a short time, but damage the body.
There are many surgical techniques available to replace the affected joints troubling an individual. But they are major procedures requiring a person to be healthy otherwise.
No prosthesis can have the flexibility and sensibility of a natural joint.
During the acute pain one can apply hot compression on the affected part. This would definitely provide some relief. Analgesic liniments available for local application would be a better choice than taking tablets orally.
Oral tablets if taken should be stopped immediately as soon as one gets some relief. Thus their side- effects can be minimized.
Once one has relief from the acute pain, it is better to take due precautions to avoid exacerbation of pain and inflammation. For example, a patient of gout should avoid beer and red meat.
One suffering from rheumatoid arthritis should not do heavy manual work with the affected joint. Hot compression of the affected joints even when there is no pain, especially during cold weather is a very useful measure to avoid development of severe pain.
Specific exercises of the joints, when done regularly, enhance the flexibility of joints and keep the pain and inflammation to minimum.
So take care of your joints and if there is any problem do not let it increase to the extent of being crippled.