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By Sasha de Beausset Aparicio, MSc

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What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term which describes a type of joint disorder mainly characterized by inflammation in that area. There are several known types of arthritis. However, there are some which appear more common than others and include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, Still’s disease, Ankylosing spondylitis, and gout or pseudo-gout. In addition, it may be viewed as secondary for a series of diseases such as Psoriasis, Haemochromatosis, Hepatitis, Inflammatory bowel disease, Sarcoidosis, Henoch-Schonlein purpura, and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Furthermore, it represents the main cause behind disabilities on the United States territory. More than twenty million people that suffer from this condition have functioning limitation on a regular basis. Because it makes it highly difficult for individuals to continue to be physically active, most of those who develop this bodily issue end up home-bound.

Even though it has a high predominance within older people, there are children who suffer from it. A survey lead between 2007 and 2009 showed that 22% of the individuals aged over eighteen suffer from doctor-diagnosed arthritis while 9.4% having bodily limitations due to this condition. However, more than 70% of the population from North America that suffer from it are aged between 60 and 65. Unfortunately, specialists believe that these numbers will increase in time.


In order for the arthritis to be completely understood by people, it is important to know what joints are and their role within the organism. To put it in short terms, a joint is the place in which one bone moves on other bone. The ligaments are a type of elastic bands that maintain the bones in their proper place during the contraction and relaxation of the muscles which determines the joint move.

For example, osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage starts to lose the elasticity and becomes stiff, thus it can be easily damaged. When this occurs, the ligaments and tendons become stretched and eventually cause pain. On the other hand, the rheumatoid type appears with the attack of the synovial membrane which results in pain and swelling. This condition is more common in females than males and usually appears in individuals aged between forty and sixty. Additionally, the infectious type occurs because of an infection in the synovial tissues and fluid. It is generally determined by bacteria, but the reason behind it can also be viruses or fungi.

Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of this condition depend on the type suffered. For instance, people with osteoarthritis usually experience joint pain as well as a progressive stiffness which develops gradually. Those with rheumatism generally feel a painful swelling, stiffness in the legs, arms, wrists, and fingers, and certain inflammations. The stiffness occurs on both parts of the body and is more often upon wakening. On the other hand, individuals who have the infectious type are prone to joint inflammations, sharp pains that are associated with either an infection or an injury in other parts of the body, chills, fever, and tenderness.

When it comes to children, the symptoms slightly vary and they have other signs which point to this bodily issue. Among these, there are appetite loss, anemia, weight loss, as well as blotchy rashes on the legs and arms. In more difficult cases, the problem is associated with a limp, joint stiffness, and swellings.

Diagnosing Arthritis

If an individual suspects he or she might suffer from arthritis, the best thing to do is to consult a personal doctor. In order to set a proper diagnosis, a physical exam is often performed and additionally there are some questions asked about the patient’s medical history.

During the physical exam, if there is fluid around the joint, the joints are red and tender, and there is a difficulty in moving it, the patient is more likely to suffer from this medical condition. Furthermore, joint x-rays and blood tests can help with infection arthritis. In some cases, there is a necessity of removing a joint fluid sample with the help of a needle and send it for check to the laboratories. The results will reveal if the person has this condition or not. Depending on the severity and type of arthritis, the procedures behind the diagnosis may vary.

Treatment for Arthritis

The goal behind the arthritis treatment is function improvement, pain reduction and prevention of further joint damage. However, there are some cases in which it can’t be cured, thus the person has to live with it for the rest of her or his life.

For those that still have a hope, the first step towards healing is a lifestyle chance. Exercising is among the best ways to reduce fatigue and pain, relieve stiffness, and enhance bone and muscular strength. However, the program is usually determined by a specialized doctor and it is important not to overdo it because it may cause more harm than good in the end. Examples of exercising program are motion exercises to enhance flexibility, strength muscle tone training and low-impact aerobics which are also known as endurance exercises.

In addition to the physical effort, therapy is another thing that can help. This can include orthotics or splints that support joints and enhance their position (often suggested for rheumatism), water therapy, ice or heat, and massage. Other type of therapies that are recommended for curing an individual for this condition or at least minimizing the joint impact include a proper sleep (from eight to ten hours and some naps throughout the day), avoid a certain position for an increased period of time, avoid movements and position that place stress on joints, yoga, tai chi, meditation, and eating a proper diet filled with vegetables and fruits and Omega-3 fatty acids.

If there are no chances of improvement after these steps have been followed of if the individual desires to have faster results, there are some over-the-counter and prescription medicine that can be taken, such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressant. On the other hand, if the person desires to avoid any type of medication due to possible counteractions or side-effects, there is a series of natural supplements that can be tried. It is important to focus on the featured ingredients which should possess high quantities of Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, B vitamins, and calcium. In conclusion, no matter what is the preferred treatment for arthritis, it’s of bigger importance to concentrate on the life-changes and try to fix things while they’re still fixable.