Arthritis





Arthritis means inflammation of a joint or joints. There are three common forms of arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis which tends to be a disease of the younger person
Osteoarthritis which tends to be a disease of the older person
Gouty arthritis which again tends to affect the older person.
Osteoarthritis is from wear and tear on a joint. Footballers, for instance, whose joints are damaged week after week may well end up later in life with osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis affects the joints which are exposed to wear and tear so that the larger joints of our body, knees, hips, back, elbows and shoulders are involved. The more stress you put on those joints in your younger days, the more likely you are to suffer from wear and tear in later life.

Osteoarthritis is not associated with as much inflammation as do in the other two forms of arthritis.

Gouty arthritis is due to high levels of uric acid in the blood which come out into the joints in the form of urate crystals making the joint inflamed.

The cause of Rheumatoid arthritis is not known, but is thought to involve a rection by the body to itís own tissue, particularly that in the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a generalised disease. It is associated in the acute stage with fever. You donít feel well, you perspire and feel you have some kind of an acute infection. You may feel that you have the flu, and you might then notice a gradual onset of pain and perhaps moderate swelling of joints. It is the small joints in the hands and feet that are mostly affected in rheumatoid arthritis. the joints are painful, swollen and difficult to move. If you have these symptoms it is wise to visit your local doctor because he can have blood tests done to see if rheumatoid arthritis is the cause. The earlier you diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, the better because treatment can prevent many of the complications. Rheumatoid arthritis has acute stages and remissions.

The treatment of arthritis requires a combination of rest, exercise, physical therapy and drugs. For most people the first 3 are much more important than drugs.

REST :

If joints are acutely swollen and painful rest is an important first step in treatment.

EXERCISE :

Even when joints are acutely inflamed gentle exercise keeps them moving.

In between attacks exercise strengthens the muscles that stabilise the joints. Hydrotherapy under the expert guidance of a physiotherapist is very good exercise.

PHYSICAL THERAPY :

Includes local heat, massage and short wave treatment. Properly applied these help to reduce pain and increase mobility.

The team approach to arthritis is crucial. Physiotherapists an occupational therapists can help in your assessment and in formulating a treatment plan.

DRUG THERAPY :

This can provide pain relief or it may be aimed at reducing the inflammation. Aspirin is still widely used and very effective. Other anti-inflammatory drugs are also very popular.

If arthritis is severe and the inflammation does not settle with simple remedies stronger drugs such as steroids may be used.

In recent years rheumatologists have tried using some very powerful drugs

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