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Arthritis is a very common disease, but is yet not very well understood. Arthritis in fact is not a single disease, but is an informal ways of referring to joint disease or joint pain. Though the word “Arthritis” means joint inflammation, this term is generally used to describe over 200 rheumatic diseases & conditions which affect joints, tissues surrounding the joint & other associated connective tissue. Involving people of all ages, races & sexes, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. More than 50 million adults & 300,000 children are suffering from some type of arthritis or the other. Arthritis is most common among women & is also found to occur more frequently as people get older. Most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis & other common rheumatic conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia & gout. Generally, arthritis is most common among adults above 65 years of age, but people of all ages including children are also found to be affected by arthritis.

  • What is Arthritis?

    Rheumatic conditions which are typically characterized by aching, pain, swelling, stiffness & decreased range of motion in & around one or more bone joints are generally called arthritis. These symptoms can often develop either suddenly or gradually. Moreover, certain rheumatic conditions are also found to involve various internal organs & the immune system of the body. Some forms of arthritis like lupus & rheumatoid arthritis can also affect multiple organs in order to cause widespread symptoms.

  • General Effects of Arthritis

    • Disability – Almost 18 percent of total disabilities are found to be caused by rheumatism or arthritis & which makes it the most common cause of disability.
    • Emotional Health – Arthritis is strongly associated with major causes of depression. This is generally caused by limitations arthritis can impose on functioning & enjoyment of life. According to statistics, almost 6.6 percent of adults with arthritis have reported to have severe psychological distress.
    • BMI or Body Mass Index – Prevalence of arthritis is found to increase with rise in BMI. While 16 percent of adults under or normal weight are found to be having arthritis when compared to 23 percent overweight adults & almost 31 percent obese adults are having arthritis. Moreover, arthritis can place limitations on day-to-day activities. Therefore having higher BMI is associated with increase in activity limitations associated to arthritis.
    • Exercise & Arthritis – Exercise & physical activity have proved to benefit people with arthritis by improvement in pain, function & mental health as well. Partaking in low levels of exercise, people with arthritis place themselves at risk of conditions like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease & functional limitations which are associated with lack of activity.
  • Risk Factors for Arthritis

    Certain factors have shown to be closely associated with greater risk of arthritis. While some of these risk factors are modifiable, others however are not.

    • Non-Modifiable Arthritis Risk Factors
      • Age – Risks of developing most varieties of arthritis are found to increase with age.
      • Sex – Most types of arthritis are found to be more common among females. Almost 60 percent of all arthritis patients are females. However, gout is more common among males than in females.
      • Genetics – There are specific genes which are associated with high risk of certain types of arthritis. These are ankylosing spondylitis, SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus & RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis.
    • Modifiable Arthritis Risk Factors
      • Obesity & overweight – Excessive weight is found to contribute to both, onset & progression of osteoarthritis of the knee.
      • Joint Injuries – Damage to joints can contribute to development of osteoarthritis within that joint.
      • Infection – Several microbial agents often affect joints & are also found to trigger development of various types of arthritis.
      • Occupation – There are certain occupations which involve repetitive bending of the knee & squatting which are normally associated with osteoarthritis of knee.
  • Causes of Arthritis

    There is no one cause for all types of arthritis. Cause or causes of any given case of arthritis generally vary according to the type of arthritis. However, potential causes of arthritis may include the following.

    • Potential Causes for Arthritis
      • Injuries which lead to degenerative arthritis
      • Abnormal metabolism which leads to gout & pseudogout
      • Inheriting Osteoarthritis
      • Infections like in arthritis of Lyme disease
      • Immune System Dysfunction like in SLE & RA

    Most types of arthritis are generally caused by a number of factors working together, even though some conditions of arthritis are having no obvious causes & appear to be quite unpredictable while emerging. Moreover, some people are more susceptible to certain arthritic conditions solely due to their genetic makeup. Additionally, factors like infection, previous injury, smoking & physically demanding occupations usually interact with patient’s genes in order to further increase risk of arthritis.

    Diet & nutrition also play a key role in managing arthritis & encouraging risk of arthritis. However, food sensitivities, specific foods or intolerances are not known to be causing arthritis. Nevertheless, some foods are found to increase inflammation, particularly animal-derived foods & diets found in refined sugar effectively exacerbate arthritis. Similarly, consuming foods which provoke the immune system response can also exacerbate symptoms of arthritis.

    Gout is another type of arthritis which is closely linked to diet since it is caused by elevated levels of uric acid which is often resulting from a diet which is high in purines. Diets as such which contain high-purine foods like seafood, meats & red wine can trigger gout flare-ups. However, vegetables & other plant foods containing high levels of purines do not appear to be exacerbating gout symptoms.

    Cartilage is flexible connective tissue within joints which absorb shock & pressure created from movements like walking & running. They also protect joints & allow smooth movement. Rheumatoid arthritis or RA occurs when the immune system attacks tissues of the body, specifically the connective tissue, which leads to pain, inflammation of joints & degeneration of joint tissue. Neck, back, ankles, knees & knuckles are joints which often ‘crack’. There are numerous reasons as to why these joints ‘sound off’.

    Children who were prescribed courses of antibiotics are found to have double the risk of developing juvenile arthritis when compared to children who do not receive antibiotics.

  • Types of Arthritis

    There are about 200 types of arthritis or conditions of the musculoskeletal system which are split into seven main groups.

    • Inflammatory Arthritis

    Inflammation is a normal process of the body’s healing system. Inflammation generally tends to occur as defense against bacteria & viruses or as response to injuries like burns. However, inflammation occurs in arthritis patients for no apparent reason in cases of inflammatory arthritis. Typically characterized by damaging inflammation which does not occur as normal reaction to infection or injury, inflammation occurring during inflammatory arthritis is unhelpful & instead causes damage to affected joints which result in swelling, stiffness & pain. Word “arthritis” basically means joint inflammation, but this inflammation may also affect ligaments & tendons surrounding the joints. This condition is known as Enthesitis. Moreover, inflammatory arthritis can affect numerous joints & inflammation can damage surfaces of joints including the underlying bones. Best examples of inflammatory arthritis include the following.

    • RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Ankylosing Spondylitis
    • Reactive Arthritis
    • Arthritis associated with Psoriasis or Colitis
    • Metabolic Arthritis

    Uric acid is a chemical created by the body when it breaks down substances which are called purines. Purines are generally found within human cells & several foods. Most of this uric acid dissolves in blood & eventually travels to the kidneys from where they pass out as urine. However, some people are having elevated levels of uric acid simply because they either naturally produces more than what is required or the body is unable to clear uric acid quickly enough. Uric acid in such circumstances, are bound to buildup & accumulate in some people & form needle like crystals within joints. This will often result in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain or an attack of gout. Moreover, gout will usually either come & go in episodes or even become chronic in case uric acid levels are not reduced. Gout commonly affects a single joint or small number of joints within extremities like the hands & the big toe. This is normally due in part to the increased formation of uric acid crystals within cooler joints like those not so close to the main warmth of the body.

    • Infectious Arthritis

    A fungus, bacterium or virus entering a joint can sometimes cause inflammation. Organisms which can pass infections to joints include the following.

    • Hepatitis C – this is a blood-to-blood infection which is often shared through transfusions & needles
    • Gonorrhea & Chlamydia – These are sexually transmitted diseases
    • Shigella & Salmonella – Caused due to contamination or food poisoning

    Joint infection in most of these cases can either be cleared with antibiotics or other antimicrobial medications. However, arthritis can at times become chronic & joint damage in cases may be irreversible if infection has persisted for some time.

    • Connective Tissue Disease (CTD)

    Connective tissues are basically tissues which support & bind together or separate organs & body tissues. These generally include cartilage, ligaments & tendons. Joint pain is normally a symptom of CTD, but inflammation which characterizes CTD is also found to occur in other tissues like kidneys, lungs, muscles & skin. This can often result in diverse range of symptoms besides painful joints which need consultation with a number of specialist doctors. Common examples of CTD include the following.

    • Dermatomyositis
    • Scleroderma or Systemic Sclerosis
    • SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
    • Back Pain

    Back pain for arthritis patients can arise from bones, joints, ligaments, nerves, discs & muscles. Some back pains are even caused by problems with organs located inside the body & can result in referred pain. This means that the problem is located elsewhere in the body but causes sensation of pain in the back region. Moreover, back pain can be having a specific cause, like in osteoarthritis, also called spondylosis when it occurs in spine. This condition is generally be detected on diagnostic imaging & through physical examination. Slipped disc is another common cause of back pain like osteoporosis. However, in most cases of back pain it is not possible for doctors to identify exact cause of back pain & is in such instances termed as ‘non-specific’ pain.

    • Soft Tissue Musculoskeletal Pain

    Soft tissue musculoskeletal pain is usually felt within tissues other than bones & joints. This pain is often found to affect a part of the body after overuse or injury. Common example of this condition includes a tennis elbow which originates from soft tissues or muscles supporting joints. Sometimes this pain is more widespread & can also be associated with other symptoms. This is usually diagnosed as fibromyalgia.

    • Degenerative or Mechanical Arthritis

    Degenerative or mechanical arthritis generally refers to a group of conditions primarily involved with damage to cartilage covering the ends of bones. Main purpose of this smooth & slippery cartilage is to help bones of joints smoothly glide over one another during movement. This type of arthritis usually causes cartilage to become rougher & thinner. The body in response begins to remodel bone in an attempt to restore stability as compensation for loss of cartilage & changes in joint function. This can eventually cause development of undesirable bony growths (osteophytes) or cause joints to turn misshapen. This condition is generally known as osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is also found to result from previous damage to joints like fractures or even previous inflammation within the joint.

  • Common Types of Arthritis

    • Osteoarthritis – There are an estimated number of 26.9 million adults living with osteoarthritis in United States alone. Osteoarthritis is known to affect 13.9 percent of adults aged 25 years & older & about 33.6 percent (12.4 million) older adults aged over 65 years. Onset of this disease is often gradual & often starts after 40 years of age. Osteoarthritis basically is a degenerative joint disease whose effect is spread over numerous joints involving the underlying bone, ligaments, joint lining & cartilage. Breakdown of these tissues normally leads to joint stiffness & pain.Joints which are most commonly affected by osteoarthritis are those which are heavily used like spine, hands, knees & hips & sometimes the base of thumb & the big toe joint. 
    • RA or Rheumatoid Arthritis – Prevalence of rheumatoid arthritis is estimated to range between 0.5 – 1 percent among the general population. There are about 1.5 million adults with RA in United States alone. Persistent inflammation within the synovial will lead to degeneration of bone & cartilage & which will subsequently lead to redness, swelling, pain & joint deformity. RA also causes disability, premature mortality while compromising quality of life in general. Moreover, onset of RA can occur among people of all ages & is normally associated with prolonged stiffness & fatigue after rest. People with RA have a much more sever functional status than people with osteoarthritis. Early diagnosis of RA will provide a better chance to learn how to successfully manage symptoms. This will definitely reduce the impact of RA on the quality of life. Although RA accounts for about 22 percent of all deaths due to AORC, approximately 40 percent of these deaths are attributed to cardiovascular conditions including stroke & ischemic heart disease. 
    • Septic Arthritis – An estimated 20,000 cases of septic arthritis are said to occur in United States every year. Incidence of septic arthritis is about 2 – 10 cases per 100,000 in general population as high as 30 – 70 cases per 100,000 among patients with RA. Septic arthritis is basically joint inflammation which is caused due to fungal or bacterial infection. When septic arthritis is due to bacteria causing gonorrhea, it is called gonococcal arthritis. Incidence of gonococcal infection is found to be about 2.8 cases for every 100,000 people each year. Joints which are commonly affected with septic arthritis include the hip & knee joints. Septic arthritis is found to develop when either bacteria or other disease-causing microorganisms spread through blood to joints or when joints are directly infected with microorganisms through surgery or injury. Bacteria like Streptococcus or Staphylococcus are found to cause most cases of acute septic arthritis. Organisms like Candida Albicans & Mycobacterium Tuberculosis are found to cause chronic septic arthritis. However, this is much less common than acute septic arthritis. Nevertheless, septic arthritis can occur among people of all ages, including children who are younger than 3 years of age. The hip joint is also the site of infection in infant patients. Surprisingly, septic arthritis is most uncommon from age 3 years to adolescence. Children are more likely than adults to be infected by Haemophilus Influenzae or Group B Streptococcus in case they have not been vaccinated. However, incidence of bacterial arthritis caused due to infection with H. Influenzae has decreased over the years to almost 70 – 80 percent ever since widespread usage of H. Influenzaeb vaccine. Following conditions are found to increase risk of developing septic arthritis.
      • Recent Joint arthroscopy of other surgical procedures
      • Recent Joint Injury
      • Medications which suppress the immune system
      • IV (intravenous) or drug use injections
      • Chronic disease or illnesses like sickle cell disease, RA or diabetes
      • Presence of bacteria in blood
      • Bacterial infection elsewhere within the body
      • Artificial Joint Implants

    Septic arthritis is generally a rheumatologic emergency since joint destruction rapidly occurs & can lead to significant morbidity & even mortality in some cases. Moreover, septic arthritis in RA patients is associated with high mortality rate of 25 – 30 percent which is specifically because of delays in diagnosis & initiation of treatment.

    • Childhood Arthritis – It is estimated that about 294,000 children, or about 1 in every 250 children under age of 18 years, have been diagnosed with AORC in United States. “Childhood Arthritis” is basically an umbrella term which is used to describe a number of types of arthritis. However, there are three clinical classification schemes of childhood arthritis as mentioned below.
      • Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA)
      • Juvenile Chronic Arthritis (JCA)
      • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA)

    All of these classifications define childhood arthritis as occurring among people who are younger than 16 years of age. Most common type of childhood arthritis is JRA & which involves at least 6 weeks of incessant arthritis among children below 16 years with no other kind of noticeable childhood arthritis. Many other numerous conditions which are counted as AORC in adults can also occur among children, though it is quite rare.

    • Psoriatic Arthritis – Prevalence of psoriatic arthritis in the United States varies between 0.3 to 1 percent along with a reported prevalence of about 7 – 42 percent among patients with psoriasis. Psoriatic arthritis is basically a joint problem which usually occurs along with a skin condition called psoriasis. Most people with psoriatic arthritis are found to develop psoriasis at first & are subsequently diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis. However, joint problems are also found to occasionally occur prior to emergence of psoriasis skin lesions. Psoriatic arthritis only occurs when the immune system faultily attacks healthy tissue & cells. This abnormal immune response eventually causes inflammation within joints along with an overproduction of skin cells. There are several factors which are found to increase risk of psoriatic arthritis in people, including the following.
      • Psoriasis – Having psoriasis is basically the greatest risk factor for people to develop psoriatic arthritis.
      • Family History – Quite a few people with psoriatic arthritis either have a parent or sibling with this disease. Researchers have also discovered certain genetic markers which most likely appear to be associated with psoriatic arthritis.
      • Age – Although people of all ages can develop psoriatic arthritis, it most commonly occurs in adults between 30 – 50 years of age.

    Severity of psoriatic arthritis is generally reflected in accrual of joint damage alongside increase in mortality. Psoriatic arthritis patients are at an increased risk for death translating into a standardized mortality ratio of 62 percent more deaths occurring among people with this condition than among the general population. Most causes of death are similar in general population with cardiovascular causes being most common. Moreover, people with psoriatic arthritis appear to have a higher number of risk factors for cardiovascular disease greater than the general population suffering from C-reactive protein, BMI & triglycerides.

    • Fibromyalgia – This condition affects an estimated 5 million adults in the United States alone. Prevalence of fibromyalgia is about 2 percent in general & significantly higher among women at 3.4 percent than men at 0.5 percent. Moreover, children can also have fibromyalgia. In almost 25 – 65 percent of cases, fibromyalgia co-occurs with several other rheumatic conditions like ankylosing spondylitis, SLE & RA. Most patients are usually diagnosed with fibromyalgia during their middle age & prevalence is normally found to increase with age. Characterized by fatigue, sleep disturbance, psychological distress, abnormal pain processing & widespread pain, fibromyalgia is a disorder of unknown causes. People suffering from fibromyalgia usually have abnormal pain perception processing & therefore strongly react to situations which other people would not find so painful. Causes & risk factors associated with fibromyalgia are still unknown. However, there are some factors which are loosely associated with fibromyalgia onset including the ones mentioned below.
      • Traumatic or stressful events, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) & car accidents
      • Illness – Viral Infections
      • Repetitive Injuries
      • Obesity
      • Genetic predisposition
      • Certain diseases like RA, SLE & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

    However, mortality rates among young adults with fibromyalgia are quite similar to that of the general population. But death rates from injuries & suicide are comparatively higher among fibromyalgia patients.

    • Gout – There are more than 8.3 million individuals who are suffering from gout in United States alone. 6.1 million of these are men & 2.2 million women. Incidence of gout among black men is almost double of what it is among white men. Gout is in fact a rheumatic disease which occurs due to monosodium urate (uric acid crystals) formation in tissues & fluids in body. This process usually occurs due to overproduction or under excretion of uric acid from the system. Acute gout typically manifests as a severely red, swollen & hot joint along with agonizing pain. Gout can also go into remission for long periods of time only to be followed by flares lasting for days to weeks, or can even become chronic in some cases. Moreover, recurrent attacks of acute gout can lead to degenerative forms of chronic arthritis termed gouty arthritis. Contributory risk factors of gout generally include the following.
      • Being overweight or obese
      • Diuretic use
      • Alcohol consumption
      • Hypertension
      • Diets rich in meats & seafood
      • Poor kidney function
      • Common medicines

    Weight loss of at least 10 pounds or more is associated with about 39 percent reduction in relative risk of gout in men. In contrast, higher consumption of meat, seafood & alcohol is found to increase risk by 41 percent, 51 percent & 253 percent respectively. Gout is also found to increase risk of mortality from coronary heart disease & cardiovascular disease, but not heart attack (myocardial infarction), independently of vascular risk factors.

    • Scleroderma – Prevalence of scleroderma in adults within United States is 240 per million. An estimated 300,000 adults suffering from various forms of scleroderma are in United States alone. Scleroderma generally refers to a group of diseases which affect connective tissue in the body. Scleroderma typically involves buildup of scar tissue within the skin. It is also found to damage cells which line the walls of small arteries. However, cause of scleroderma is still unknown, but the buildup of collagen in skin & organs is responsible for symptoms of this condition. Scleroderma generally affects people between the ages of 30 – 50 years, with women developing this disease more than men. Widespread cases of scleroderma which occur with other autoimmune diseases like polymyositis & SLE are known as mixed connective diseases. Course of scleroderma generally varies from one person to another. As a result mortality figures also greatly vary. Broadly, 10 year survival rates of scleroderma patients are between 60 – 70 percent. Death from kidney disease is found to have increased over recent years, & mostly mortality is now caused by severe pulmonary or cardiac complications. 
    • Sjogren’s Syndrome – Sjogren’s syndrome generally affects between 1 – 2 million people in the United States. This report of prevalence is between 0.05 – 4.8 percent of the population. Sjogren’s syndrome basically is an autoimmune disorder which sometimes occurs along with SLE & RA. Characterized by destruction of glands which produce saliva & tears, this disorder causes dryness in eyes & mouth & may also cause dryness in other areas like skin, throat & nose which require moisture for proper functioning. Sjogren’s syndrome can also affect other parts of the body as well, including, nerves, digestive organs, blood vessels, kidneys, lungs & joints. This condition typically occurs among adults aged around 40 years, & over 9 out of 10 sufferers are usually women. No increase in all-cause mortality has been reported among primary Sjogren’s syndrome patients in comparison with the general population. Moreover, about 40 – 50 percent of patients with primary Sjogren’s syndrome are found to develop extraglandular disease, which is a condition affecting tissues other than glands. This may often manifest as epithelial lymphocytic invasion of liver, lung, kidney or skin vasculitis, glomerulonephritis, peripheral neuropathy & C4 levels; these conditions commonly represent an immune-complex mediated disease. Moreover, patients in the latter category have higher risk of development for Non-Hodkin’s Lymphoma alongside a worse prognosis with higher rates of mortality. 
    • SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – Prevalence of 161,000 definite cases & 322,000 definite or probable cases of SLE have been reported in the United States. SLE basically is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is found to produce antibodies to cells within the body. This eventually leads to widespread inflammation & tissue damage. SLE is characterized by episodes of illness & remissions. Although peak occurrence of SLE is generally between 15 – 40 years of age & more common among women, SLE is also found to occur from infancy to old age in people of all genders. SLE usually affects blood vessels, kidneys, lungs, brain, skin, joints & other tissues. People with SLE usually experience fevers, skin rashes, fatigue & swelling or pain in joints. Actual causes of SLE have still not been ascertained, but it is linked to factors like hormones, environment & genetics. SLE is having a relatively high rate of mortality among rheumatic diseases accounting for about 14.5 percent of total deaths from rheumatic ailments. 
  • Signs & Symptoms of Arthritis

    Similar to causes of different types of arthritis varying widely, location & pattern of symptoms of arthritis also vary depending upon the types. Signs & symptoms of arthritis can either develop gradually or suddenly. Moreover, symptoms may either come & go or persist over time since arthritis is most often a chronic disease. There are 4 basic key warning signs of arthritis which would prompt a patient’s discussion with the healthcare provider. These include the following.

    • Pain – pain due to arthritis can be constant, or come & go in some cases. Moreover, pain may either be isolated to one location or otherwise be felt within many parts of the body.
    • Stiffness – Stiffness is typically an arthritis symptom, with some types of arthritis causing increased stiffness while waking up in the morning, sitting at a desk or after sitting in a car for long periods of time. Sometimes stiffness is experienced after exercise or characterized by persistent stiffness.
    • Swelling – There are some types of arthritis which cause skin over the affected joint to become swollen & red & feel warm to touch.
    • Difficulty in joint Function – Getting up from a chair or moving a joint normally should not be painful or hard. However, in case it is, it may indicate arthritis or some other joint problem. 
  • Signs & Symptoms of Common Types of Arthritis

    • Rheumatoid Arthritis – RA basically is a systemic disease which equally affects joints on both sides of the body. Most commonly affected joint in RA include ankles, feet, knees, fingers & wrists. This usually helps doctors differentiate RA from osteoarthritis, as the latter typically affects some joints more than others, like wrists, shoulders & knees. RA joint symptoms generally include the following.
      • Morning stiffness which is lasting more than 1 hour is common
      • Joint pain is most often experienced on the same joints on both sides of the body
      • Joints may lose range of motion over time & become deformed

    Various other symptoms of RA include the following

    • Pleurisy – chest pain while breathing
    • Sjogren’s syndrome – dry eyes & mouth
    • Eye burning with itching & discharge
    • Nodules under skin – this is usually a sign of more severe disease
    • Burning, tingling or numbness in hands & feet
    • Difficulties in sleeping 
    • Osteoarthritis – Most often, a result of wear & tear on joints suggesting that joints have either been overworked or affected more than others. People with osteoarthritis generally experience the following symptoms.
      • Stiffness & pain in joints
      • Pain which becomes worse after exercise or pressure on joints
      • Crackling, grating or rubbing sound when joints move
      • Joint stiffness in mornings
      • Pain which causes sleep disturbances

    In some cases X-rays can reveal changes which are characteristic of osteoarthritis, while the patient may not experience any symptoms. 

    • Childhood Arthritis – Common symptoms of childhood arthritis include the following.
      • Red, warm or swollen joints
      • Problems or limping while using limbs
      • Rashes on extremities & trunk which come & go with fever
      • Sudden high fevers
      • Pain, stiffness & limited movements in joints
      • Body-wide symptoms like pale skin, sickly appearance & swollen lymph gland

    Juvenile RA is also found to cause eye problems which include uveitis, iritis & iridocyclitis. However, there may not be any signs or symptoms, but when eye symptoms occur, they include the following.

    • Red eyes
    • Changes in vision
    • Photophobia – eye pain which gets worse by looking at light 
    • Septic Arthritis – Septic arthritis symptoms generally occur rapidly. Patients often experience fever, swelling in one joint & intense joint pain which becomes more severe on movement. Symptoms in infants or newborns include the following.
      • Infants cry when infected joints are moved
      • Irritability
      • Fever
      • Pseudoparalysis – Inability to move limb with infected joint

    Septic arthritis symptoms in children & adults include the following.

    • Pseudoparalysis
    • Fever
    • Joint redness
    • Joint swelling
    • Intense joint pain

    Chills also occur sometimes, but it is a quite uncommon symptom. 

    • Fibromyalgia – People with fibromyalgia generally experience the following symptoms.
      • Widespread pain which is common at specific tender points
      • Fatigue
      • Sleep disturbances
      • Psychological stress
      • Numbness or tingling in hands & feet
      • Joint stiffness in mornings
      • Headaches including migraine
      • Painful menstrual periods & other painful syndromes
      • Irritable bowel syndrome
      • Cognitive problems including memory & thinking (called ‘fibro fog’) 
    • Psoriatic Arthritis – Signs & symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can be mild & involve just a few joints like end of fingers or toes. This disease may also affect multiple joints including spine in people with severe psoriatic arthritis. Moreover, psoriatic arthritis is usually felt in sacrum & lower spine & generally consists of pain, burning sensation & stiffness. People with psoriatic arthritis generally experience changes in nails & skin of psoriatic origin. The skin also usually gets worse at the same time as arthritis. 
    • Gout – Symptoms of gout generally involve the following.
      • Knee, big toe or ankle joints
      • Sudden pain – described as crushing, throbbing or excruciating – most often during the night
      • Feeling of warmth & tenderness in joints
      • Joints appearing red & swollen
      • Occasional bouts of fever

    After patients have had gout for many years, they may eventually develop tophi. Tophi are basically lumps below skin which are typically located near joints, or apparently develop on ears & fingertips. Multiple small tophi may sometimes develop or a large white lump can grow causing stretching & deformation of skin. Moreover, in some cases tophi may even burst & drain simultaneously while oozing a chalky white substance. Tophi, which are starting to break through skin can lead to osteomyelitis or infection & may in some cases also require urgent surgery in order to drain tophus. 

    • Sjogren’s Syndrome – Common signs & symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome include the following.
      • Dry eyes
      • Feeling of a foreign particle in eye
      • Itching eyes
      • Dry mouth
      • Problem with speech
      • Losing sense of taste
      • Difficulty while eating or swallowing
      • Thick & stringy saliva
      • Sores or pain in mouth
      • Fever
      • Fatigue
      • Hoarseness
      • Swollen glands
      • Joint swelling
      • Joint pain
      • Change in color of hands or feet 
    • Scleroderma – Signs & symptoms of scleroderma include the following.
      • Raynaud’s Phenomenon – fingers or toes which turn white or blue in response to cold temperatures
      • Hair loss
      • Joint pain
      • Tight & mask-like skin on face
      • Sores (ulcers) on fingertips or toes
      • Small white lumps beneath skin which sometimes ooze a whitish substance looking like toothpaste
      • Tightness & stiffness of skin on face, forearms, hands & fingers
      • Skin which becomes lighter or darker than normal
      • Wrist pain
      • Pain, swelling & stiffness of fingers & joints
      • Pain & numbness in feet
      • Wheezing
      • Shortness of breath
      • Dry cough
      • Bloating after meals
      • Diarrhea
      • Constipation
      • Problems controlling stools
      • Heartburn or Esophageal Reflux
      • Difficulty in swallowing
    • SLE or Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – Most common signs & symptoms of SLE include the following.
      • Red rash or color change on face, often in shape of butterfly across nose & cheeks
      • Extreme fatigue
      • Swollen glands
      • Pain in chest with deep breathing
      • Unexplained fever
      • Swollen or painful joints
      • Low blood count
      • Sensitivity to sunlight
      • Pale or purple fingers or toes from stress or cold
      • Unusual hair loss
      • Depression, troublesome thinking or problems with memory

    Other common signs & symptoms of SLE include unexplained kidney problems, repeated miscarriages, hallucinations (seeing things) & unexplained convulsions (seizures).

  • Diagnosis of Arthritis

    Most cases of arthritis are diagnosed with help of detailed medical history of past & present symptoms, a physical examination & particularly radiographic & laboratory analysis. It is also possible that some cases have more than one type of arthritis at the same time & just a few rheumatic diseases in fact are having a definitive diagnosis, like in case of gout. Tests which are ordered during the diagnostic procedure will depend upon the type of arthritis which is suspected by the doctor. Some of these common diagnostic tests include the following.

    • Bone Scan
    • Joint X-rays
    • Joint MRI
    • Joint Ultrasound
    • ESR – Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate
    • C-Reactive Protein
    • CBC – Complete Blood Count
    • Anti-CCP Antibody
    • Rheumatoid Factor
    • Synovial Fluid Analysis
    • ECG – Electrocardiogram
    • HLA Antigens for HLA B27
    • ANA – Antinuclear Antibody
    • Thyroid Function Tests
    • Blood Culture
    • Aspiration of Joint Fluid for Cell Count (Examination of crystals under microscope, culture & gram stain
    • Uric Acid in Blood
    • Uric Acid in Urine
    • Synovial Biopsy
    • Urinalysis
    • Slit Lamp Examination of Eyes
    • Tear Test
    • Schirmer’s Test of Tear Production
    • Salivary Gland Biopsy

    Physical Examination for Osteoporosis Can Show the Following

    • Joint movement which causes grating (crackling) sound called crepitation
    • Joint swelling which is making bones around joints feel larger than normal
    • Pain upon normal movement
    • Tenderness when joints are pressed
    • Limited range of motion

    Diagnosis of SLE can most often be very difficult. However, the gold standard is diagnosis by a rheumatologist.

  • Treatments for Arthritis

    Whether a person is having inflammatory or non-inflammatory type of arthritis or just a painful case of gout, there are plenty of medications & recommendations which can relieve pain & ensure that joints do not get damaged any further. Focus of treatment for arthritis is however, to be able to control pain & minimize joint damage while improving or maintaining function & quality of life. Treatments of arthritis generally involve the following.

    • Medications
    • Physical or Occupational Therapy
    • Non-Pharmacologic Therapies
    • Splints or Joint Assistive Aids
    • Surgeries – Joint Replacement & Joint Surgery
    • Weight Loss
    • Patient Education & Support
  • Medications for Arthritis

    Non-inflammatory types of arthritis like osteoporosis are generally treated with pain medications, weight loss in case the patient is overweight, physical activity & self-management education. These treatments are commonly applied to inflammatory types of arthritis as well, as RA. A variety of these conditions are effectively treated with anti-inflammatory medications like corticosteroids & NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, DMARDs or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs & a relatively new class of drugs which are known as biologics. Medications which are typically used to treat arthritis normally depend upon the type of arthritis. Arthritis medications which are most commonly used include the following.

    • Analgesics – These medications are found to effectively reduce pain, but may have no effect on inflammation. Good examples of analgesics include narcotics containing hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin) or oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet); others include tramadol (Ultram) & acetaminophen (Tylenol).
    • NSAIDs or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – These are generally useful for both, reducing pain & inflammation. NSAIDs which are sold over-the-counter include naproxen sodium (Aleve) & ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil). Some NDAIDs are also available as gels, creams or patches & which can be directly applied over specific joints.
    • Counterirritants – There are some varieties of ointments & creams which contain capsaicin or menthol. This is the ingredient which generally makes hot peppers spicy. Rubbing preparations made of capsaicin on skin over painful joints can modulate pain signals from joints while lessening pain.
    • DMARDs or Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs – These drugs are normally used to treat cases of RA. DMARDs generally slow or stop the patient’s immune systems from attacking joints. Best examples of DMARDs include hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) & methotrexate (Trexall).
    • Biologics – Biologics are most often used in conjunction with DMARDs. Biologic response modifiers are genetically engineered drugs which selectively target various protein molecules that are involved in the immune response. Best examples of Biologics include infliximab ( Remicade) & etanercept (Enbrel).
    • Corticosteroids – These generally include cortisone & prednisone. This is a class of drug which reduces inflammation while suppressing the patient’s immune system.
  • Self-Management for Arthritis

    Self-management of arthritis should be performed in combination with medical treatments. Moreover, self-management of arthritis symptoms is also very important. Key self-management activities include the following.

    • Developing arthritis management strategies
    • Protecting joints from unnecessary stress
    • Staying physically active
    • Achieving & maintaining healthy weight
    • Undergoing regular check-ups with doctors

    However, there are seven most important self-management habits which can successfully help patients manage arthritis.

    • Be Organized – Keeping track of symptoms, pain levels, medications & possible side effects would improve the quality of life of arthritis patients. They should also schedule regular consultations with doctors.
    • Manage Pain & Fatigue – Medication regimen should be effectively combined with non-medical pain management techniques. Learning to manage fatigue is a key element, which can help people live comfortably with arthritis.
    • Stay Active – Exercise is quite beneficial for managing arthritis along with general health.
    • Balancing Activity with Rest – Additionally, patients must remain active, although rest is equally important when the disease is active.
    • Eating a Healthy Balanced Diet – Healthy diet can however help patient s achieve healthy weight & control inflammation. Patients should also avoid processed & refined foods & choose whole plant foods which normally have high antioxidants along with anti-inflammatory properties.
    • Improve Sleep – Poor sleep can often aggravate arthritis fatigue & pain. Patients must therefore take steps to improve sleep hygiene so as to find it easy to fall asleep & stay asleep. In order to achieve this, arthritis patients should avoid caffeine & perform strenuous exercises in the evening while restricting screen-time prior to bed time.
    • Caring for Joints – Useful tips for protecting joints include using stronger & larger joints as levers while opening doors & using many joints to spread weight of an object like backpacks, while gripping as loosely as possible by using padded handles. Arthritis patients should also not sit in same position for long periods of time. They should therefore take regular breaks & keep mobile.
  • Physical Therapies for Arthritis

    Researchers suggest that though people with arthritis experience short-term increase in pain when they first begin to exercise, continuing physical activity can be very effective in reducing symptoms in the long-term. People with arthritis therefore can regularly participate in joint-friendly physical activity, either alone or with friends. Since several people with arthritis also have co-morbidities like heart disease, it is very important that they ensure that physical activities they are indulging in are appropriate for their individual conditions. Some joint-friendly physical activities which are appropriate for arthritis patients with heart disease include the following.

    • Swimming
    • Walking
    • Biking

    Living with arthritis is not so easy & performing simple daily tasks can often be very painful & extremely difficult. However, there are several things which arthritis patients can do to relieve symptoms. It is therefore quite important that patients discuss with doctors about ways to make sure that they live a healthy lifestyle which can help them live a better quality of life.

  • Long-Term Outlook for People with Arthritis

    Presently, there is no cure for arthritis. However, right type of treatment can greatly reduce symptoms. In addition to regular treatments which doctors recommend, patients can also make a number of lifestyle changes which can help them manage arthritis. Exercising regularly can help keep joints flexible. Swimming is also an excellent form of exercise for people with arthritis since it does not put any pressure upon joints like walking & running can do. Staying active is most important, but arthritis patients must also make sure to rest when they need to & never overexert themselves. Maintaining a healthy weight & weight loss when required will reduce risk of developing OA & will also reduce symptoms in case the patient is already having it. Eating a healthy diet is essential for weight loss & eating foods containing plenty of antioxidants will definitely help in reducing inflammation. Arthritis patients will also learn as to what works best for them in controlling pain. While some patients find ice packs & heating pads to be soothing, other prefer to use mobility assisting devices like walkers or canes to help reduce pressure off sore joints.

  • Low Cost Treatments for Arthritis in India

    Healthcare in Indian is not just an excellent proposition, but it is also extremely affordable. Large pool of specialist doctors & surgeons in Indian are some of the best globally reputed, with many of them initially having trained & experienced for decades in advanced western countries like the UK, Canada & United States before returning to practice in their homeland. They are therefore well aware of the changing trends & emerging technologies in order to continuously deliver successful outcomes. Many amongst the extensive network of hospital facilities in India are nationally or internationally accredited institutions & adhering to best practices & standard norms so as to make the international patient recover & rejuvenate in a relaxed & comfortable environment. Moreover, highly skilled nurses & efficient professional staff manning the hospital facilities are able to communicate in English & which eventually boosts the confidence of the international patient for seeking medical solutions to a variety of ailments. 

  • Avail Affordable Arthritis Treatments with Orthopaedic Surgery India

    Orthopaedic Surgery India is the fastest specialized medical tourism company based in South Asia. Associated with the best doctors & excellent hospital facilities in the country, they are undeniably the best healthcare company offering a variety of affordable medical solutions for all types of bone & joint problems to international patients. Seamless services offered by Orthopaedic Surgery India starts when a patient calls up to discuss his health related problem. The company will get into action & search its database to identify the best available doctors & the most ideal hospital to deal with the patient’s ailment. Other essential services provided by the company includes assisting the foreign patient & his/her accomplice in obtaining medical visas, warm reception on arrival for treatment, comfortable accommodation options including budget, luxury hotels or serviced apartments alongside convenient local travel arrangements, scheduled appointments for treatment procedures without any waiting period, exotic recuperative holidays at reasonable costs to make this health travel a memorable experience, evaluation check-ups with doctors for speedy recovery & an affectionate farewell sendoff when the patient is flying back home.

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