The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.
There are many types of arthritis, but to the rheumatologist the term arthritis or synovitis represents a specific inflammatory disorder of a synovial (or diarthrodial) joint which is clinically manifested by redness, warmth, swelling, and loss of function.
Overall, arthritis and related syndromes are currently classified into nine categories on the basis of clinical and pathological features and pathogenetic mechanisms.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that primarily affects joints. It may result in deformed and painful joints, which can lead to loss of functioning. The disease may also have signs and symptoms in organs other than joints.
Osteoarthritis (OA) or degenerative arthritis is the most common joint disorder and is characterized by progressive focal degeneration of the articular cartilage, sclerosis of the subchondral bone, and formation of bony outgrowths or "osteophytes" at the joint margins. Most of the current theories on the pathogenesis focus upon primary alterations in the articular cartilage.
Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritic inflammation that occurs in about 15 percent of patients who have a skin rash called psoriasis. This particular arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and symptoms vary from person to person. Research has shown that persistent inflammation from psoriatic arthritis can lead to joint damage. Fortunately, available treatments are effective for most people.
Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, may represent a direct invasion of joint space by various microorganisms, most commonly caused by a variety of bacteria .However, viruses, mycobacteria, and fungi have been implicated.
Reactive arthritis is a sterile inflammatory process that usually results from an extra-articular infectious process. Bacteria are the most significant pathogens because of their rapidly destructive nature. For this reason, the current discussion concentrates on the bacterial septic arthritides.
Gouty arthritis: An attack that is usually extremely painful of joint inflammation due to deposits of uric acid crystals in the joint fluid (synovial fluid) and joint lining (synovial lining). Intense joint inflammation occurs as white blood cells engulf the uric acid crystals, causing pain, heat, and redness of the joint tissues.
Juvenile arthritis (JA) is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that can develop in children ages 16 and younger.
Inflammatory arthritis is a group of diseases which includes: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthropathy, inflammatory bowel disease, adult-onset Still's disease, scleroderma, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Symptoms of osteoarthritis may include joint pain and progressive stiffness that develops gradually.
Like joint pain, the stiffness is often more severe in the morning or after a period of inactivity. Morning stiffness associated with another type of arthritis called osteoarthritis usually wears off within 30 minutes of getting up, but rheumatoid arthritis morning stiffness often lasts longer than this.
The lining of joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis become inflamed, which can cause the joints to swell, and become hot and tender to touch.
In some people, firm swellings called rheumatoid nodules can also develop under the skin around affected joints.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience tiredness and a lack of energy.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a high temperature (fever).
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience sweating.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a poor appetite.
Some people with rheumatoid arthritis experience weight loss.
Weight loss that occurs for no apparent reason also can be a sign of something serious. Possible causes include increased inflammatory disease activity; thyroid disease, which is common in people with RA; NSAID-related stomach ulcers; and celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, both of which affect the body’s ability to process nutrients and are more common in people with existing autoimmune diseases.
The inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis can also sometimes cause problems affecting other areas of the body, including dry eyes if the eyes are affected and chest pain if the heart or lungs are affected.
More fatigue than usual could mean increased inflammatory disease activity, fibromyalgia, depression or anemia. These sometimes can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and sometimes by medications used to treat various forms of arthritis.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve), as well as corticosteroids come with a risk of gastric bleeding that can lead to anemia. Methotrexate, a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), can interfere with the formation of blood cells, which also can lead to anemia.
Although a day of increased fatigue may simply be your body’s way of telling you to slow down and rest more, you should let your rheumatologist know if it is frequent, severe or goes on for more than a week.
If gently bumping into a table corner leaves a substantial bruise, your arthritis or the medications you take for it may be to blame.
Autoimmune disorders such as RA and lupus can lead to a low platelet count, which can cause bruising for no apparent reason and bleeding from the gums.
Low platelet count is also a side effect of disease-modifying drugs, including methotrexate and biologics. Aspirin or other NSAIDs can affect blood clotting, and corticosteroid use causes the capillaries to become fragile and more likely to break and cause a bruise if you bump into something.
Shortness of breath. This symptom, particularly if it occurs with a dry cough or little or no exertion, could signal a potentially serious problem, including a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) or interstitial lung disease (scarring of the lung tissue), which occurs in as many as one in 10 people with RA.
If you are taking methotrexate, another possible cause is methotrexate pneumonitis (also known as methotrexate lung), an inflammation of lung tissue estimated to affect up to 10 percent of those who take it. In methotrexate lung, shortness of breath may be accompanied by a dry cough and fever.
Painful urination. This symptom, particularly when accompanied by a fever, is a sign of infection. Contact your rheumatologist immediately if you are taking immunosuppressive drugs and have symptoms of a urinary-tract or bladder infection.
Chest pain. There are many causes of chest pain, some of which may be related to your arthritis or medications. For example, NSAIDs used for pain and bisphosphonates used to treat osteoporosis can cause heartburn, or irritation of the esophagus that is felt in the chest.
Achilles pain. Pain and swelling above your heel can be the result of increased physical activity, an injury or wearing shoes without proper heel support. But if the pain is accompanied by other problems, such as low back pain or swollen joints, it could be a sign of ankylosing spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis.
Persistent sadness or hopelessness. These feelings, as well as difficulty concentrating or loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, are classic symptoms of depression. Feelings of depression are common when arthritis causes constant pain and interferes with your ability to go about your daily life, but in some cases depression can be a side effect of the disease process or of arthritis medications, particularly corticosteroids.
Numbness or tingling. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause connective tissues in the hand or foot to become inflamed and push up against a nerve, causing numbness and tingling. As a result, you might experience weakness or clumsiness, or even nerve damage.
Inability to move or raise your hand or foot. Compared to numbness or tingling, suddenly not being able to raise or move a hand or foot is a much more severe complication of rheumatoid arthritis.
Red, inflamed eyes. Blood vessels in the eyes are another common target of rheumatoid arthritis, especially among people with more serious forms of the disease.
Stomach problems. If you take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen or naproxen to treat your rheumatoid arthritis, you are at risk for stomach problems. These drugs can cause stomach ulcers, which could in turn make the stomach bleed or form a hole in its wall.
Bone fracture. A bone fracture in someone with rheumatoid arthritis may reveal underlying osteoporosis, especially among women.
Foot trouble. One area in which people often have RA-related pain or inflammation is the forefoot. Women often stop wearing heels and head to a podiatrist due to the pain.
Some people with RA may also develop pain in the heel because of plantar fasciitis, a common foot disorder caused by swelling of the tissue at the bottom of the foot, near the heel.
Morning stiffness. Another characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis is stiffness in the joints in the morning. This is also a common problem in osteoarthritis, which can cause pain after long periods of inactivity, like sleeping.
Locked joints. People with RA can sometimes experience locked joints, particularly in the knees and elbows. This happens because there’s so much swelling of the tendons around the joint, the joint cannot bend.
Nodules. These are firm lumps that grow under the skin near the affected joints. They often appear at the back of the elbows, and sometimes people get them in the eyes.
Some High-Level Sports: It is difficult to determine how much sports participation contributes to development of arthritis. Certainly, sports participation can lead to joint injury and subsequent arthritis. However, the benefits of activity likely outweigh any risk of arthritis.
Illness or Infection: People who experience a joint infection (septic joint), multiple episodes of gout, or other medical conditions, can develop arthritis of the joint.
Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint's cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones. Enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
Rheumatoid arthritis: In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
Arthritis may also be caused by autoimmune disease.
Some infections or allergic reactions may cause short-term arthritis. When it is caused by an infection it is known as "reactive arthritis".
For a number of people certain foods can either bring on arthritis symptoms, or make existing ones worse.
Some forms of arthritis are caused by a reduction in the normal amount of this cartilage tissue.
Another common form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body. These attacks affect the synovium, which secretes a fluid that nourishes the cartilage and lubricates the joints.
When inflammation occurs, chemicals from the body are released into the blood or affected tissues. This release of chemicals increases the blood flow to the area of injury or infection and may result in redness and warmth. Some of the chemicals cause a leak of fluid into the tissues, resulting in swelling. This process may stimulate nerves and cause pain.
The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis. Causes include injury (leading to degenerative arthritis), abnormal metabolism (such as gout and pseudogout), inheritance (such as in osteoarthritis), infections (such as in the arthritis of Lyme disease), and an overactive immune system (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).
Researchers have shown that people with a specific genetic marker called the HLA shared epitope have a fivefold greater probability of developing rheumatoid arthritis than do people without the marker.
Other more recently identified genes with a connection to RA include: STAT4, a gene that plays important roles in the regulation and activation of the immune system; TRAF1 and C5, two genes relevant to chronic inflammation; and PTPN22, a gene associated with both the development and progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Losing weight if you are overweight or obese can help take pressure off your joints.
People with gout should avoid alcohol and foods that are high in purines, and that includes organ meats (liver, kidney), dried beans, sardines, anchovies, asparagus, and mushrooms.
When the body breaks down purines, it produces uric acid, and excess uric acid causes painful crystals to deposit in the joints. Making these changes may reduce flare ups, but they almost never cure the condition.
When you're in pain, the last thing you may want to do is exercise, but it's actually one of the best things you can do for your joints. Aerobic, strength-training, and stretching exercises can all be helpful.
Work with your doctor to learn what exercises are safe for you to do. Physical therapy is also a common part of treatment in people with OA. Regular exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight.
Some NSAIDs are available over-the-counter for relief of pain and fever at your local drugstore. There are also many other prescription NSAIDs available but you'll need a prescription from your doctor. Prescription doses of NSAIDs also curb inflammation.
Steroids. Corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, reduce inflammation and pain and slow joint damage. Side effects may include thinning of bones, cataracts, weight gain and diabetes. Doctors often prescribe a corticosteroid to relieve acute symptoms, with the goal of gradually tapering off the medication.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). These drugs can slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and save the joints and other tissues from permanent damage. Common DMARDs include methotrexate (Trexall), leflunomide (Arava), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine). Side effects vary but may include liver damage, bone marrow suppression and severe lung infections.
Immunosuppressants. These medications act to tame your immune system, which is out of control in rheumatoid arthritis. Examples include azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan) and cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune, Gengraf). These medications can increase your susceptibility to infection.
TNF-alpha inhibitors. Tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is an inflammatory substance produced by your body. TNF-alpha inhibitors can help reduce pain, morning stiffness, and tender or swollen joints. Examples include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira), golimumab (Simponi) and certolizumab (Cimzia). Potential side effects include nausea, diarrhea, hair loss and an increased risk of serious infections.
Other drugs. Several other rheumatoid arthritis drugs target a variety of processes involved with inflammation in your body. These drugs include anakinra (Kineret), abatacept (Orencia), rituximab (Rituxan), tocilizumab (Actemra) and tofacitinib (Xeljanz). Side effects vary but may include itching, abdominal pain, headache, runny nose or sore throat.
Newer "second-line" drugs (DMARDs) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis include leflunomide (Arava) and the "biologic" medications etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), anakinra (Kineret), adalimumab (Humira), rituximab (Rituxan), abatacept (Orencia), golimumab (Simponi), certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), tocilizumab (Actemra), and tofacitinib (Xeljanz).
Leflunomide (Arava) is available to relieve the symptoms and halt the progression of the disease. It seems to work by blocking the action of an important enzyme that has a role in immune activation.
Leflunomide can cause liver disease, diarrhea, hair loss, and/or rash in some people. It should not be taken just before or during pregnancy because of possible birth defects and is generally avoided in women who might become pregnant.
Etanercept, infliximab, adalimumab, golimumab, and certolizumab pegol are biologic medications that intercept a messenger protein in the joints (tumor necrosis factor or TNF) that promotes inflammation of the joints in rheumatoid arthritis. Symptoms can be significantly, and often rapidly, improved in those using these drugs.
Anakinra (Kineret) is another biologic DMARD treatment that is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Anakinra works by binding to a cell messenger protein (IL-1, a proinflammatory cytokine). Anakinra is injected under the skin daily.
Rituximab (Rituxan) is an antibody that was first used to treat lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Rituximab can be effective in treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis because it depletes B-cells, which are important cells of inflammation and in the production of abnormal antibodies that are common in these conditions.
Abatacept (Orencia) is a biologic medication that blocks T-cell activation. Abatacept is used to treat adult patients who have failed treatment with a traditional DMARD medication. Abatacept is an intravenous infusion given monthly or a weekly subcutaneous injection.
Tocilizumab (Actemra) has recently been approved for the treatment of adult patients with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have had an inadequate response to one or more tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist therapies.
Tofacitinib (Xeljanz) is the first oral biologic DMARD to treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis in which methotrexate did not work well.
Fish oils, such as in salmon, and omega-3 fatty acids supplements have been shown to be beneficial in some short-term studies in rheumatoid arthritis. This suggests that there may be benefits by adding more fish to the diet, such as in the popular Mediterranean diet.
The anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin in dietary turmeric, an ingredient in curry, may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
Supplements such as calcium and vitamin D are used to prevent osteoporosis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Folic acid is used as a supplement to prevent side effects of methotrexate treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Alcohol is minimized or avoided in rheumatoid arthritis patients taking methotrexate.
Surgery may be recommended to restore joint mobility or repair damaged joints. Doctors who specialize in joint surgery are orthopedic surgeons. The types of joint surgery range from arthroscopy to partial and complete replacement of the joint.
Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure whereby a destroyed joint is replaced with artificial materials. For example, the small joints of the hand can be replaced with plastic material. Large joints, such as the hips or knees, are replaced with metals.
Tendon repair. Inflammation and joint damage may cause tendons around your joint to loosen or rupture. Your surgeon may be able to repair the tendons around your joint.
Joint fusion. Surgically fusing a joint may be recommended to stabilize or realign a joint and for pain relief when a joint replacement isn't an option.
Minimizing emotional stress can help improve the overall health in people with rheumatoid arthritis. Support and extracurricular groups provide those with rheumatoid arthritis time to discuss their problems with others and learn more about their illness.
It is thought that acupuncture has the ability to reduce arthritis pain. If you want to try this treatment method, be sure to find an experienced acupuncturist with good references.
Everyone needs omega-3 fatty acids in their diets for optimum health. However, these fats may also help your arthritis. Fish oil supplements, which are high in omega-3s, may help reduce joint stiffness and pain.
Another fatty acid that can help is gamma-linolenic acid, or GLA. It’s found in the seeds of certain plants like evening primrose, borage, hemp, and black currants. You can also buy the oils of the seeds as a supplement. However, be sure to check with your doctor before taking them.
Turmeric, the yellow spice common in Indian dishes, contains a chemical called curcumin that may be able to reduce arthritis pain. The secret is its anti-inflammatory properties.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, regular massaging of arthritic joints can help reduce pain and stiffness, and improve your range of motion. Work with a physical therapist to learn self-massage, or schedule appointments with a massage therapist regularly.
There are many kinds of herbal supplements on the market that claim to be able to reduce joint pain. Some of the herbs touted for arthritis pain include boswellia, bromelain, devil’s claw, ginkgo, stinging nettle, and thunder god vine.
Good posture is one way to prevent arthritis in your back. Whether you are sitting or standing, slouching can put pressure on the spine and even permanently curve the spine over time, creating a buffalo hump.
Poor posture is harder to maintain as we age because we become weaker and it can be hard work to stand up straight, but the longer a person can maintain good posture, the better.
You can reduce inflammation in the body by eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables daily. Avoid fatty processed foods and limit meat intake. Cod liver oil helps to calm inflammation within the body as well.
The Omega-3 fatty acids found in this oil also lubricate the joints and help other body systems. Vitamin E also helps to reduce the effects of inflammation. Drink plenty of purified water daily to stay hydrated and help rid the body of excess toxins.
Stretching is very important before a work out or strenuous activity such as snowboarding or weight lifting. Sports injuries can have an effect on arthritis later on in life, so it is very important to stretch before any type of physical activity.
A good rule of thumb is to spend some additional time stretching right when you get out of bed in the morning.
Exercise helps to reduce the free radical damage within the body. Free radicals are natural by-products of the cells as we age.
Certain things protect the body against free radicals, such as vitamins, medication and even exercise.
Maintaining a healthy weight is also an important factor when it comes to preventing arthritis.
Swimming helps to relieve stiffness and improve muscle tone.
Taking hot baths can also help to reduce inflammation within the body as well as easing joint pain and discomfort. Fill the tub up with 1 cup of Epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda, and distribute evenly. These ingredients will soften the water and help heal the joints. You can also fill the tub with colloidal oatmeal to help soften your skin. While you are soaking, massage your aching joints.
A survey of the prevalence of major diseases suggests that about 10% of the U.S. population of all ages suffer from some form of arthritis, most commonly, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout.
Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are among the most common disabilities in the U.S. and by year 2020 are predicted to affect about 59 million (~18% of all) people in this country.
Rheumatoid arthritis is about three times as common in women as in men and afflicts about 1% of the adult population in the developed nations; it is much less common than osteoarthritis, which is associated with aging. It primarily affects the middle-aged.
Children are affected by a similar disorder called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.
Other common rheumatic conditions include gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Based on 2010-2012 data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) an estimated 52.5 million (22.7%) adults have self-reported doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
Another 22.7 million (9.8% of all adults) have arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation.
Based on 2003 NHIS data a projected 67 million (25%) adults aged 18 years or older will have doctor-diagnosed arthritis by the year 2030.
An estimated 37% (25 million adults) of those with arthritis will report arthritis-attributable activity limitations by the year 2030.
Nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic knee OA by age 85 years.
2 in t3 people who are obese may develop symptomatic knee OA in their lifetime.
1 in 4 people may develop painful hip arthritis in their lifetime.
An estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.
An estimated 294,000 children under age 18 have some form of arthritis or rheumatic condition; this represents approximately 1 in every 250 children in the U.S.
26.0% of women and 19.1% men report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
2.9 million Hispanic adults report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
4.6 million Non-Hispanic Blacks report doctor diagnosed arthritis.
667,000 Asian/Pacific Islanders and 280,000 American Indians/Alaska Natives report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
People who are overweight or obese report doctor-diagnosed arthritis more often than people with a lower body mass index (BMI).
15.9% of under/normal weight adults report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
22.6% of overweight and 31.2% of obese Americans report doctor-diagnosed arthritis.
66% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis are overweight or obese (compared with 53% of adults without doctor-diagnosed arthritis).
Weight loss of as little as 11 pounds reduces the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis among women by 50%.
Almost 44% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report no leisure time physical activity compared with 36% of adults without arthritis.
Among older adults with knee osteoarthritis, engaging in moderate physical activity at least 3 times per week can reduce the risk of arthritis-related disability by 47%.
Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are the most common cause of disability among U.S. adults and have been for the past 15 years.
Among all civilian, non-institutionalized U.S. adults 9.8% (22.7 million) report both doctor-diagnosed and arthritis attributable activity limitations.
43.2% of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report arthritis-attributable activity limitations.
Approximately 1 in 3 people with arthritis (31%) in between the ages of 18 and 64 report arthritis-attributable work limitation.
Among all civilian, non-institutionalized U.S. adults ages 18-64, 5% (8.2 million) report both doctor diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable work limitations.
State-specific prevalence estimates of arthritis-attributable work limitation show a high impact of arthritis on working-age (18-64 years) adults in all U.S. states, ranging from a low of 3.4% to a high of 15% of adults in this age group.
People with doctor-diagnosed arthritis have significantly worse HRQOL than those without arthritis. Adults with arthritis report two to four times as many unhealthy days in the past month than those without arthritis.
In 2004, there were an estimated 744,000 hospitalizations with a principal diagnosis of arthritis (3% of all hospitalizations). Overall, 5 million hospitalizations had a principal or secondary diagnosis of arthritis.
There were 78 million ambulatory care visits with a primary diagnosis of arthritis or other rheumatic conditions, or nearly 5% of all ambulatory care visits that year.
Overall, there were 66 million ambulatory care visits with a primary or secondary diagnosis of arthritis or other rheumatic conditions.
Three categories of AORC account for almost 80% of deaths: diffuse connective tissue diseases (34%), other specified rheumatic conditions (23%), and rheumatoid arthritis (22%).
In 1979, the crude death rate from AORC was 2.46 per 100,000 population. In 1998, it was 3.48 per 100,000 population; rates age-standardized to the year 2000 population were 2.75 and 3.51, respectively.
In 2003, the total cost attributed to arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in the United States was 128 billion dollars, up from 86.2 billion dollars in 1997.
Medical expenditures (direct costs) for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in 2003 were 80.8 billion dollars, up from 51.1 billion in 1997.
Earnings losses (indirect costs) for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions in 2003 were 47 billion dollars, up from 35.1 billion in 1997.
Arthritis is strongly associated with major depression (attributable risk of 18.1%), probably through its role in creating functional limitation.
6.6% of adults with arthritis report severe psychological distress.
In 2004, there were 454,652 total knee replacements performed, primarily for arthritis.
In 2004, there were 232,857 total hip replacements, 41,934 shoulder, and 12,055 other joint replacements, primarily for arthritis.
The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, frequently progressive disease in which inflammatory changes occur throughout the connective tissues of the body. Inflammation and thickening of the synovial membranes cause irreversible damage to the joint capsule and the joint cartilage as these structures are replaced by scarlike tissue called pannus.
The rheumatic diseases are conditions in which pain and stiffness of some part of the musculoskeletal system are prominent clinical symptoms.
Arthritis is a term commonly used when the joints themselves are the major seat of rheumatic disease.
There are many (perhaps as many as 100 or more) clinical types of arthritis.
Joint diseases are commonly manifested by joint pain with, or without, the presence of inflammation.
Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis may include painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs, and wrists occurring in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially upon awakening.
The joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis is usually a throbbing and aching pain. It is often worse in the mornings and after a period of inactivity.
Joints affected by rheumatoid arthritis can feel stiff. For example, if your hands are affected, you may not be able to fully bend your fingers or form a fist.
Symptoms of infectious arthritis may include fever, chills, joint inflammation, tenderness, and sharp pain that is associated with an injury or infection elsewhere in your body.
In children, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anemia, or blotchy rash on the arms and legs, may signal the onset of some types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Other forms of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis are associated with joint stiffness, a limp, or joint swelling.
Genetics: Exactly how much heredity or genetics contributes to the cause of arthritis is not well understood. However, there are likely genetic variations that can contribute to the cause of arthritis.
Age: Cartilage becomes more brittle with age and has less of a capacity to repair itself. As people grow older they are more likely to develop arthritis.
Weight: Because joint damage is partly dependent on the load the joint has to support, excess body weight can lead to arthritis. This is especially true of the hips and knees that can be worn quickly in heavier patients.
Previous Injury: Joint damage can cause irregularities in the normal smooth joint surface. Previous major injuries can be part of the cause of arthritis. An example of an injury leading to arthritis is a tibial plateau fracture, where the broken area of bone enters the cartilage of the knee joint.
Occupational Hazards: Workers in some specific occupations seem to have a higher risk of developing arthritis than other jobs. These are primarily high demand jobs such as assembly line workers and heavy construction.
Arthritis relief doesn't always have to come from a bottle. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and using special devices to help you get around can also have a big impact on your symptoms.
You're probably familiar with a group of medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs interfere with chemicals called prostaglandins in the body, which trigger pain, inflammation, and fever.
NSAIDs can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription. Side effects may include ringing in your ears, stomach irritation, heart problems, and liver and kidney damage.
NSAIDs can be very helpful for relieving pain and swelling in all types of arthritis, including gout. Just be careful when you use these drugs, because they can have side effects such as stomach bleeding and an increased risk for heart attack and other cardiovascular problems. Read the package label and talk to your doctor to make sure you're using the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible period of time.
Simple hot and cold treatments can make a world of difference when it comes to arthritis pain. Long, warm showers or baths, especially in the morning, help ease stiffness in your joints. Use an electric blanket or heating pad at night to keep your joints loose and use moist heating pads. Cold treatments are best for relieving joint pain. Wrap a gel ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables in a towel and apply it to painful joints for quick relief.