Everything you need to know about Arthritis

Man painting a wall using a paint roller, wearing a hard hat

Arthritis, a term used to describe over 100 conditions and diseases, primarily targets the musculoskeletal system, more specifically the body’s joints. It affects a large portion of the population, including people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. Its global burden is significant, and those who have arthritis often suffer from decreased quality of life. Due to its impact and commonality, it is essential that you are equipped with everything you need to know about arthritis.

Arthritis: Types, Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Senior man rubbing his arm, pain in elbow

Arthritis is characterized by joint inflammation that manifests as pain, stiffness, swelling, and limited range of motion [1]. Various types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis, gout, septic arthritis, and reactive arthritis.

Treatments for arthritis revolve around relieving symptoms and improving joint function. These include anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medications, immunosuppressants, which form the basis of comprehensive arthritis management . Moreover, physical therapy and lifestyle modifications are also helpful for restoring mobility and reducing complications [1].

Recent advances in biotechnology have resulted in the development of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologicals for RA, which have shown promising outcomes [2]. Joint replacement surgery can also help correct the joint damage caused by arthritis.

See related: Psoriatic Arthritis vs Rheumatoid Arthritis: Understanding the Differences

Rheumatoid arthritis

Deformed fingers caused by rheumatoid arthritis

RA is a chronic autoimmune disease where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s tissues, leading to joint inflammation, bone erosion, and sometimes, progression to other organs like the skin, eyes, lungs, and heart [3].

The signs and symptoms of RA include long-lasting pain, lack of balance, and deformity of the affected joints. Its symptoms also include the common signs of arthritis like pain, stiffness, tenderness, and swelling, which can occur on both sides of the body. Another important thing you need to know about this arthritis type is that those who are affected may also present with fever, weakness, and weight loss.

Risk factors

RA begins at any age, with the risk increasing with age and onset highest in those in their 60s. Women, people who have a genetic predisposition, those who smoke, and the obese are also at more risk of developing RA [3,4].

Treatment

Treatment options for RA include medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic agents. Managing RA may also involve physical therapy, exercise, and lifestyle changes to maintain joint function and reduce inflammation.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis pain in the knee, man with his hands around his knee, he is sitting on a white sofa

OA, sometimes called “wear-and-tear” arthritis, is a degenerative ailment resulting from the cartilage within the joint breaking down. This causes the bones to rub against each other, leading to pain, and ultimately loss of movement. OA primarily impacts the hands, knees, hips, and spine, and is the most common form of arthritis. The signs and symptoms of RA are pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion and function [5].

Risk factors

Factors that increase the risk for OA include overuse or injury of the joints, increasing age, female gender, genetic predisposition, race, and obesity.

Treatment

Treatment of OA includes a combination of therapies to relieve symptoms and stop its progression. You also need to know that an individual with this arthritis type can undergo physical therapy, perform exercises, lose weight, use crutches (or canes), take medications, and undergo surgery [6].

Psoriatic arthritis

Acute psoriasis on the elbow

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) primarily affects people with psoriasis, a skin condition that presents with itchy, scaly red patches. Approximately 20% of individuals with psoriasis will develop this type of arthritis [7].

What you need to know about this arthritis type is that its symptoms may vary, but commonly involve pain, swelling, and stiffness in one or multiple joints. Morning stiffness, fatigue, reduced range of motion, and changes in nails are often associated with PsA. More severe PsA flares can result in significant discomfort and impact an individual’s ability to move impacted joints [8].

Risk factors

Those who have genetic predispositions are at a higher risk of having PsA. Having psoriasis, a family history of the disease, and having an infection or mechanical stress also increases the potential of an individual to have psoriatic arthritis [9].

Treatment

Treatment for PsA often involves medications that reduce inflammation, manage symptoms, and slow the progression of the disease [10]. Physical therapy and lifestyle modifications such as maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen can help manage symptoms and enhance quality of life.

Gouty arthritis

Toes of the left foot deformed from large tophi

Gout is a common yet complex type of arthritis that can affect anyone. Its most defining characteristics are sudden, severe attacks of pain, inflammation, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or more joints, most typically the big toe. Gout flare-ups are most common at night and last for up to two weeks if left untreated. It occurs due to the build-up of sodium urate crystals in and around the affected joint/s, leading to the aforementioned symptoms. These crystals then form from the uric acid we get from eating foods like shellfish, beef, pork, and lamb [11].

If left untreated, gout can lead to bone erosion and permanent joint damage. The build-up of uric acid in the joints and soft tissue is called tophi. Additionally, people with gout may also develop other health conditions such as cardiovascular and kidney problems.

Risk factors

Some groups of people are more at risk of developing gout, including males, people who have cardiovascular and kidney disease, and those who are obese. One more thing you need to know about this arthritis type is that using hypertension medications (diuretics), consuming alcohol, high-sugar foods, and a diet rich in purines (like red meat and organ meat) also increases its risk [12].

Treatment

For the treatment of acute gout flares, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, are commonly used. Other ways to alleviate pain include icing, resting, and elevating the affected joint [11, 12]. Medicine that lower the blood uric acid level, weight loss, and surgical removal of large tophi are also options for treatment [13].

Septic arthritis

Arthritis scan, side of the knee

Septic arthritis, also known as infectious arthritis, is an inflammation of a joint caused by an infection, typically due to bacteria, but it can also be caused by viruses, fungi, and other pathogens. The infection usually reaches the joints through the bloodstream but in some cases, can be caused by an injection, surgery, or injury. Symptoms of septic arthritis include acute joint pain, swelling, and fever. It often affects one joint, most commonly the knees, hips, and ankles [14].

Risk factors

Risk factors include old age, existing joint diseases, immunosuppression, and recent joint surgery or injury [14,15].  

Treatment

Given the severity of this condition’s immediate medical treatment is necessary. The primary approach to treating septic arthritis involves the use of antibiotics and drainage of the infected joints [15].

Reactive arthritis

The doctor conducts a medical exam on the foot of a woman

Reactive arthritis is a condition characterized by joint pain and swelling, triggered by an infection in the digestive tract, urinary tract, or genitals. Symptoms may include inflammation of the joints, eyes, urethra, or genitals. It may also present with diarrhea [16].

While most patients recover fully from reactive arthritis, the condition can occasionally lead to long-term complications including chronic joint issues or eye inflammation. Therefore, early detection and treatment are vital in managing the disease and minimizing potential complications.

Risk factors

People between 20 and 40 years of age are more likely to develop reactive arthritis [17]. Men are also more likely to develop this disease due to sexually transmitted infections. Moreover, those with HIV infection and genetic predisposition are at more risk of having this disease [17,18].

Treatment

Treatment options for reactive arthritis include antibiotics to address the underlying infection, anti-inflammatory medication to relieve symptoms, and in some cases, immunosuppressants. Alongside medication, physical therapy and exercise may also be beneficial [19].

Arthritis, a complex family of musculoskeletal disorders, affects a significant portion of the global population, causing considerable disability and diminished quality of life. While advancements in medical interventions have provided meaningful relief, more research is necessary to achieve a deeper understanding of this disease complex and develop further therapies.

Achieve symptomatic relief with the help of natural products

Soothing Juggernaut New Product Photo

Now that you have learned what you need to know about arthritis, you might be looking for topical products that can offer relief from the pain and swelling. CANhaveTODAY’s Soothing Juggernaut salve can help relieve these symptoms! This salve boasts the pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties of arnica, frankincense, and cypress essential oils, each sourced responsibly and chosen after thorough research. Beyond their potential benefits in relieving arthritis symptoms, these ingredients also aid in skin nourishment, helping make skin smooth and moisturized after application.

Apply this product as needed to the affected area by massaging it gently. Then, you will experience the freedom that Soothing Juggernaut brings. Swap your painful days for ones filled with ease and comfort!

FAQ

What causes arthritis flare-up?

An arthritis flare-up can be triggered by a lot of different factors according to type. For example, joint overuse or injury, stress, infection, or inflammation can cause an arthritis flare-up.

What does knee arthritis feel like?

Knee arthritis can feel painful and stiff, especially when you try to get up from sitting down.

How many types of arthritis are there?

There are more then 100 types of arthritis, the most common of which are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

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