Arthritis is a condition that causes joints to swell and become tender that makes joints stiff and painful. The general symptoms of arthritis include pain in the joints, numbness, stiffness, inflammation of joints, and redness around the affected joint.
Most people complain that the symptoms worsen during awakening moments, especially in the morning.
There are many kinds of arthritis and their causes and treatment vary. In this article, we are going to discuss the types of arthritis, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
a)Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS)
This type of arthritis affects the joints of the spine that brings inflammation of the spine. Inflammation of the spine causes the spine bones to fuse leading to reduced flexibility and the patient’s posture is interfered with as the patient cannot stand upright. Ankylosing spondylitis is more common in men than in women.
Signs and symptoms of Ankylosing spondylitis Stiffness and pain of thighs, pain on buttocks, lower back pain, stiffness, and pain in the pelvic bone, neck pain, and feeling fatigued. The symptoms often worsen after a long period of inactivity for example after bedtime.
A severe form of ankylosing spondylitis can cause inflammation of the eyes that can be accompanied by pain and an increase of light sensitivity of the eye. Heart problems such as enlarged aorta artery that interfere with the functionality of the heart.
Risk factors for this disorder are sex; as we have seen earlier males are more likely to get affected by ankylosing spondylitis than are female.
Another factor is age; in most cases, the condition usually appears after adolescence sometimes can occur at the late stages of adolescence.
Lastly, heredity can be a major factor, ankylosing spondylitis can run across the entire generation in a family (arthritis symptoms in the diagnosis).
Diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis
Proper diagnosing this disorder involves two tests.
The following questions should be asked when diagnosing using physical examinations. The questions include;
- When was the onset of the disease, importantly if the patient is under the age of 50 years? As we earlier discovered that the disease occurs at the onset of adulthood therefore individual whose onset of the disease is below 50 years indicates ankylosing spondylitis.
- If pain has persisted for more than three months. In most cases ankylosing spondylitis persists until arthritis’ relieved.
- Is there lower back pain accompanied by stiffness and inability to move especially in morning hours? An individual suffering from ankylosing spondylitis tends to report pain during the morning hours after several hours of rest.
- Is back pain relieved after physical activity like exercise? Ankylosing spondylitis responds well to exercise. Ask the individual the experience they are getting after subjected to physical exercise.
2.Symptoms and scan for ankylosing spondylitis
Scans such as those of X-ray and MRI can be really helpful at identifying any physical change of spinal joint. They are useful if combined with the physical examination diagnosis for accurate identification of the disease.
Remember the scan will only show you the deformity of the joint but scan will never point out a direct result for this condition.
3.Blood test for the presence of gene causing ankylosing spondylitis
Technology has allowed for the detection of the gene causing ankylosing spondylitis in the blood. This is test is however important when combined with other physical tests as the physical test will indicate the existence of the disorder.
In most cases, individuals born with this gene will have a chance of developing ankylosing spondylitis. However, some individuals have the gene but do not develop this disease.
Erythrocyte sedimentation looks for the presence of inflammation of spine joints therefore can be useful at spotting ankylosing spondylitis.
What should I do to relieve arthritis symptoms?
There is no definite cure for ankylosing spondylitis however doctors may prescribe medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the swelling and pain.
An example of the best choice is the corticosteroids, they can inhibit the inflammation process and the immune system.
The use of corticosteroids should be looked into as it causes an increase of fungal and bacterial infection as the immune system is so much suppressed by this drug.
If there is a lot of pain due to joint damage surgical procedure may be the best option. A visit to the physiotherapist can help reduce most of the pain. Exercises reduce inflammation and this creates a more comfortable environment.
For the joints that have already fused, the use of stem cell therapy may be the only option left. Injecting mature stem cells help in restoring the joints by reducing inflammation and relieving arthritis.
It is also known as Reiter’s syndrome or Reiter’s arthritis which is an autoimmune type of arthritis that occurs as a result of an infection from another part of the body for example tummy or throat.
Reactive arthritis usually affects the knees and back and response to medication is positive by this type of arthritis.
Symptoms of this disorder include; pain and inflammation of the affected area, pain during urination, frequency urination, development of nodules on the sole, and mouth ulcers. Some people also experience mouth ulcers which can recur.
Unlike most types of arthritis, reactive arthritis lasts for a very short time just a few months from the onset of the disease.
However, some individuals find it last a bit longer possibly more than two years but it is usually a mild infection and you might even miss too.
What causes reactive arthritis is not yet known but experts suggest that once the immune system has finished eradicating the bacterial infection some fragments of bacteria fragments can travel through the bloodstream and get trapped in joints. Those trapped fragments can trigger immune response hence inflammation.
Reactive Arthritis Diagnosis
Physical test arthritis symptoms
After a physical examination, your doctor may want to check your joints for symptoms such as swelling, inflammation, warmth, and tenderness and may also check the movement of your spine and joints.
Your doctor may also check inflammation of your eyes and your skin for the presence of a rash (fungal infection).
- To check if there is evidence of past infection or if you are already having an infection.
- A blood test can also test and detect an inflammation
- Antibody tests may be performed to determine if there are other types of arthritis-related infection.
Test of the joint fluid
Your doctor may obtain a sample of fluid from the affected joint and send it to the laboratory for investigations such as;
- White blood cell count- an elevated number of white blood suggests that your body is fighting a foreign body matter and can be used to test for the presence of inflammation or infection.
- Infections – A bacterial culture may be performed to test if there is the presence of a bacteria present in the fluid. Joint fluid with bacteria may suggest septic arthritic which is dangerous as it can cause severe damage to the joint.
- Crystals – crystals such as uric acid are harmful to your joint. For example, uric acid causes gout a very painful type of arthritis that affects the big toe.
Imaging and scan tests to clear arthritis symptoms
Scans such as X-ray and MRI can help identify the presence of inflammation and can help rule out other types of arthritis hence reducing misdiagnosis.
Ways of relieving arthritis symptoms
The medication of this type entirely depends on the cause, for example, if the reactive arthritis was caused by a bacterial infection your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection first. The type of antibiotic you will take again depends on the type of bacterial infection you have. The bacterial culture is necessary to determine the best antibiotic sensitive to the infection.
Other ways you can relieve arthritis symptoms:
- Use of Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – prescription of this kind of medication such as Indocin can relieve arthritis pain caused by reactive arthritis.
- Corticosteroids – injection of corticosteroids into the affected area can suppress the action of the immunity system thus reducing inflammation and relieving arthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis drugs- experts suggest that these drugs can relieve arthritis. Example of a drug include; Azulfidine, Trexall, or Enbrel.
You will never go wrong by giving a physical therapist a visit. Muscle and joints exercises strengthen muscles around the affected area thus increases support and stability.
This is a type of arthritis that affects an individual with psoriasis, a condition that affects the skin causing the skin to have red patches that contain scale-like later on top.
Arthritis symptoms usually worsen around awakening time especially in the morning hours after bedtime. Risk factors of psoriatic arthritis include;
- Older age-ability of acquiring this condition increases with age. It is more common in elderly people above 50 years of age
- Joint trauma – An injury around the joint either acquired through surgery or by accident increases the risk of getting pseudogout.
- Mineral imbalance – experts suggest that those individuals with a high level of iron and calcium in their bloodstream are more prone to getting this disorder.
- Genetic disorder- some families tend to acquire this condition at an early age and this continues across their generation
Just like gout this type of arthritis is characterized by the formation of crystals in the joints. Unlike gout the crystals formed are of uric acid, they are formed from pyrophosphate dehydrate. Accumulation of these crystals in the joint causes them to swell and cause pain in the joints, especially in the knees, ankles, and others.
Signs and symptoms of pseudogout
Symptoms of pseudogout include; swelling of joints that are normally caused by a buildup of fluid around the joint, this is then accompanied by severe pain in the joint.
In severe cases, crystals deposited at the joint may cause damage to the joint and cause the symptoms to look similar to the ones causing rheumatoid arthritis. This makes treatment even more difficult.
Treatment to relieve arthritis symptoms
- Medications such as drugs of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory can be of much help since they relieve inflammation restoring comfort in the foot.
- Corticosteroids – These drugs reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Draining joint fluid
The doctor drains fluid in the joint to reduce pressure and pain using a needle and syringe. This also helps remove the crystals in that fluid reducing the inflammation effect.
ii. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
As the name suggests this type of arthritis affects children under the age of fifteen. There are three main types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis name; oligoarticular and this is the main type of JIA, Polyarticular that affects more joints and systemic, it is a rare form of JIA. Arthritis symptoms of this condition include; swollen, redness, pain in joints, fever, and rash.
This condition affects some parts of the brain and can therefore cause symptoms such as fatigue, pain, disturbed sleep pattern, muscle twitching.
There is no cure for fibromyalgia but there are medications available that can relieve symptoms such as pain killers.
This is a type of arthritis that affects generally old people above the age of 60 years and it commonly affects the larger muscles such as hips, shoulder, neck upper arms, etc.
Its symptoms include; large muscle aches and stiffness. It is commonly worse during morning hours right after awakening.
Most psoriatic arthritis responds well with treatment therefore medication such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and immune suppressants drugs such corticosteroids should be diploid. Exercise should be done regularly especially in the morning hours to relieve arthritis symptoms.