What Kind Of Arthritis Do You Have?
Contrary to popular belief, “arthritis” itself is not a single disease, but a classification of conditions that affect the joints and surrounding areas.
In fact, there are more than 100 types of arthritis – with different causes, symptoms, and effective treatment plans.
Arthritis: Common Misconceptions
Most people believe that arthritis only affects older people with aging joints. While osteoarthritis (time-related arthritis) is one of the most common types of arthritis, it is not the only one. Time-related arthritis usually is hereditary; if your parents had arthritis, you may likely have it. And osteoarthritis can affect younger populations as well. There are several underlying conditions that can cause arthritic symptoms:
- Obesity. Excess weight actually promotes the production of too many inflammatory mediators in the body. Adipose (fat) tissue creates the condition of chronic inflammation in the body.
- Genetic Conditions. Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an immune system disorder, which causes the immune system to malfunction and attack the tissues of, and surrounding, the joints; this is often familial. Osteoarthritis too is genetic in nature; long-term studies examining identical twins growing up in different environments has demonstrated this.
- Nutritional Deficiency. The body needs “building blocks” to repair muscle. This includes calcium, which is used to replenish bones, and Vitamin D, which improves the body’s absorption rate of calcium. Proper nutrition is also needed to cross-link the proteins that make up cartilage, bone and muscle.
- Injury. An injury can lead to degenerative arthritis after a joint or bone is damaged. Injuries can greatly exacerbate underlying arthritic symptoms. However, most sprains will not cause arthritis; rather, the cartilage itself must be damaged at the time of impact or breakage of the bone.
- Infection. Lyme disease has been known to be associated with arthritis symptoms. Septic arthritis is a condition during which bacteria invade the joint; this is a major cause of rapidly progressive arthritis.
- Metabolic Disorders. Gout is caused by an improper disposal of uric acid, which, when left in the body, crystallizes inside joints and causes pain, inflammation, and swelling. This is a ‘crystal deposition’ disease and there are others.
Common Types Of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and is characterized by “normal” wear and tear on the joints with time and regular movement. Symptoms typically appear in larger joints in the leg – including the knees and hips.
The last joint in fingers is another common location, as is the ‘knuckle’ joint of the thumb. As the cartilage between the joints breaks down, bones begin to grind together, causing pain, inflammation, and limiting the sufferer’s range of motion. Osteophytes or spurs form as well.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is less common than osteoarthritis. It is caused by an immune system dysfunction, in which the immune system attacks tissues in the body. In rheumatoid arthritis the lining of the joint capsule is usually involved and many inflammatory molecules then invade the joint.
This leads to joint damage, pain, and eventual degradation of the surrounding tissues. There is no cure for RA, and it can lead to deformed joints, intense pain, swelling, and redness, and range of motion loss. However, there are amazing medications available for this condition and others like it today. Please see a physician if you feel that you have inflammatory arthritis.
Gout is caused by a buildup of uric acid in the bloodstream. Its symptoms include stabbing, “needle-like” pain in the toes and joints, such as: ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, or fingers.
This pain is accompanied by redness, swelling, and loss in movement in the affected joints. “Gout attacks,” periods when the pain is significant, can last from 2 days to a week. The classic location of a gout attack is in the big toe; this is known as ‘pedagra’.
Tart Cherry Extract has long been used to relieve gout pain. It naturally reduces uric acid levels in the body, and wards off inflammation caused by damaging free radicals!
What You Should Do If You Think You Have Arthritis
If you’ve been experiencing any sort of prolonged joint pain, stiffness, or swelling, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. They will then refer you to an orthopedic surgeon or a rheumatologist if needed, who will be able to ascertain what type of arthritis you have.
To relieve pain and swelling in the meantime, try hot and cool compresses to the affected area, change up your diet to include more nutrient-dense foods, and consider an over-the-counter pain medication to relieve inflammation (assuming you are not allergic or have a contraindication to it.)
Natural remedies are often suitable for treating symptoms. Click below to schedule your appointment with Dr. Meredith Warner to discuss your options for treatment today!