Inflammation of the joints, accompanied by symptoms like stiffness and excruciating pain, is called arthritis. Once called the 'old man's disease,' arthritis generally affects adults over 65. It can affect people of all ages. There are various types of arthritis viz osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune arthritis, infectious arthritis, juvenile arthritis and more. The types vary depending on age and which part of the body is involved. For example, rheumatoid arthritis is common among the old and the injured, while juvenile arthritis affects only children.
When do you know you have arthritis?
Given that arthritis isn't just an old man's disease, here's a list of symptoms. You could have arthritis if you:
- Have a sprain or muscle tear that refuses to heal, get your doctor to take a look.
- Encounter numbness and a tingling sensation in the hands (are caused when inflamed tissues press against nerves in the hand and feet).
- Experience frequent bouts of foot pain, irritation and swelling of the joint linings (the swelling occurs due to an accumulation of white blood cells in the inflamed area.)
- Have inordinately stiff muscles when you start moving after a period of inactivity.
- Can feel firm lump-like nodules under your skin especially near the affected joints.
What causes Arthritis?
Different types of arthritis occur due to different reasons. Injury, abnormal metabolism, heredity, uric acid crystals, infections such as lyme disease, and an overactive immune system are some common causes.
Does it primarily affect men?
No. Research actually suggests that it affects women more than it does men, rheumatoid arthritis in particular. However, studies have also shown that the symptoms of this disease decrease when treated at an early stage, particularly among men.
There are several treatments for arthritis today, the aim of which is to ease out pain and initiate a comfortable living. There are certain remedies that are commonly applicable, as listed below.
- Applying ice packs to swollen joints may relieve acute pain, while maintaining a balanced diet and controlling one's weight can help manage pain in the long run.
- Doctors also prescribe routine exercises as a part of the arthritis treatment, as exercising gives strength to the muscles and keeps the joints flexible.
- Using neoprene sleeves and other supportive devices can help lessen the wear and tear of joint cartilage, thus reducing pain.
There is currently no preventive treatment for arthritis. However, if detected at an early stage, arthritis can be cured completely.
If you can literally feel it in your bones, don't hesitate to consult a doctor. Remember, even if it can't be prevented, arthritis can definitely still be treated.