What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation within a joint.
Arthritis affects people of all ages including children.
There are many different types of arthritis that cause a wide range of symptoms. Two of the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis.
In people affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage (connective tissue) between their bones gradually wastes away, leading to painful rubbing of bone on bone in the joints. The most frequently affected joints are in the hands, spine, knees and hips.
Osteoarthritis often develops in people who are over 50 years of age. However, it can develop at any age as a result of an injury or another joint-related condition.
What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a more severe, but less common, form of arthritis than osteoarthritis. It occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the affected joints, causing pain and swelling to occur. This can lead to a reduction in movement and the breakdown of bone and cartilage.
Symptoms of arthritis
There are many different symptoms of arthritis and the symptoms you experience will vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. However, common arthritic symptoms include:
- joint pain, tenderness and stiffness
- inflammation in and around the joints
- restricted movement of the joints
- warmth and redness of the skin over the affected joint
- weakness and muscle wasting
There is no cure for arthritis but there are a number of treatments that can help slow down the condition’s progress.
Medication and injection can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended.
For osteoarthritis, analgesics (painkillers) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are often prescribed. Lubricant injection and platelet rich plasma injection are more advance conservative treatment.
In severe cases, surgery may be recommended such as:
- arthroplasty (joint replacement)
- arthodesis (joint fusion)
- osteotomy (where a bone is cut and re-aligned)
The aim in treating rheumatoid arthritis is to slow down the progress of the condition and minimise joint damage. Recommended treatments may include:
- analgesics (painkillers)
- regular exercise