Watch out for these early symptoms of arthritis
Arthritis mostly affects a person at old age. Most people experience a variety of health concerns at this age. You may be undergoing changes in your skin, heart health, mobility, digestive health and whatnot. It is, therefore, possible to miss the early symptoms of arthritis.
Surprisingly, the prevalence of arthritis is higher than that of many popular ailments such as diabetes and cancer. This condition nearly 180 million people in India. The rising incidence makes it important to learn about the signs and symptoms of arthritis.
In this article, Dr Debashish Chanda, a leading orthopaedic doctor in Gurgaon, discusses arthritis symptoms and treatment.
What are the early symptoms of arthritis?
Let us explore what arthritis is before we find out about arthritis symptoms.
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints. This ailment can impact people across ages, however, it is highly common in people over the age of 50. Arthritis in children and young adults is possible but rare.
Signs and symptoms of arthritis
Arthritis symptoms depend on the joint that has been affected. However, some common warning signs indicate this ailment:
- Pain: One of the primary symptoms of arthritis is pain. Pain associated with this condition is also known as arthralgia. You can experience a dull ache at one or multiple joints. Some people also experience a burning sensation or soreness in the affected area. This symptom is caused by excessive wear and tear of particular joints. You will begin to feel arthritis-related pain after you have put specific joints to extended use. The pain intensity in varying in each patient.
- Stiffness: The pain and inflammation associated with arthritis often lead to a restricted range of motion.stiff joints. Arthritis cause your joints to gradually become stiff.
- Swelling: Your joint cavities consists of a specific type of fluid called the synovial fluid. It is an essential substance that supports joint movements and restricts friction. When you suffer from arthritis, the amount of synovial fluid in your joint increases significantly. This buildup makes your joints to swell.
- Fever: You may develop a fever if you have been experiencing painful and swollen joints. The fever is mostly low-grade and indicates a specific type of arthritis.
- Fatigue: People suffering from arthritis often complain of excessive tiredness along with other symptoms.
- Redness: Redness is a common sign of arthritis. The skin on your affected joints may turn red as a result of inflammation.
Sometimes, arthritis can also cause non-joint related symptoms. These include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Itching and burning of eyes
- Discharge from eyes
- Dryness in eyes and mouth
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Difficulties in sleep
What are the different types of arthritis?
There are more than 100 different types of arthritis depending on the joint they affect. However, two types of arthritis are most common among all – Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common among all types of arthritis. It is considered as degenerative arthritis that impacts most patients.
The ends of your bones are protected by smooth cartilage. Osteoarthritis happens when this protective cartilage wears down and causes your bones to rub together. This situation leads to pain and inflammation in your joints that are at further risk of developing into other conditions.
Symptoms: The common symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, inflammation, loss of flexibility, joint soreness and morning stiffness.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint in your body. However, it mostly impacts the hands, knees, hips and spine. It is because these joints suffer from most wear and tear from bearing most of your body’s weight.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease (when your immune system mistakingly attacks healthy cells in your body). It is also one of the common types of arthritis.
Women are three times more likely of being affecting by rheumatoid arthritis as compared to men. In this chronic disorder, your immune system targets your healthy joint tissues and causes pain and inflammation.
Symptoms: Common rheumatoid arthritis symptoms include tenderness and swelling in joints, morning stiffness, fatigue, fever and loss of appetite.
Rheumatoid arthritis majorly affects the joints that attach your fingers to your hands and your toes to your feet. This condition can also affect your eyes, skin, heart, kidneys, nerve tissues, lungs and more.
Some other common types of arthritis include:
- Juvenile arthritis – As the name suggests, juvenile arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects children under the age of 16. Pain, swelling, stiffness and fever are some symptoms of this condition.
- Gout – Gout is the form of arthritis in which a person experiences sudden and severe attacks of joint pain, swelling, redness and tenderness. This condition happens due to a buildup of uric acid crystals in the joint. Mostly, gout affects the joint of your big toe.
- Psoriatic arthritis – Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes red and flaky patches covered with silver scales on the skin. Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that affects people suffering from psoriasis. This arthritis can affect any part of your body but mostly develop at your fingertips and spine.
Lupus, Ankylosing spondylitis, infectious arthritis and reactive arthritis are more types of arthritis affecting people worldwide.
Read: Your comprehensive guide to joint pains and their treatment
Can arthritis be cured?
There is no arthritis cure. Medical science has not yet discovered any curative measure for this condition. Although there have been no advancements in how to cure arthritis, effective measures are present to treat this condition.
What is arthritis treatment?
Your doctor will indicate several diagnostic tests to confirm the type of arthritis. He/she will also discuss the severity of your symptoms during the preliminary exams.
Some of the common tests done before arthritis treatment are laboratory tests, X-rays, CT scans, MRI, ultrasound and more.
There are surgical and non-surgical interventions for arthritis treatment. Your healthcare provider will indicate the relevant treatment protocol based on your diagnosis. Your arthritis symptoms and treatment depend on several factors such as your overall health, type of arthritis, the severity of symptoms and more.
Most people feel relief from arthritis symptoms after medicinal support. Your doctor may indicate surgical joint repair, joint replacement or joint fusion as a remedy to your arthritis.
What is arthritis prevention?
Arthritis prevention or management of arthritis symptoms is possible with the help of simple lifestyle changes.
Here are some steps you can take for arthritis prevention:
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight can lead to quick wear and tear of your joints. It is essential to stay a healthy body weight to avoid arthritis.
- Control your blood sugar: High levels of sugar in your blood can cause easy joint stiffness. Ensure to keep your blood sugar levels moderate.
- Exercise most days of the week: Regular physical engagement keeps your body flexible and improves the strength of your joints.
- Stop smoking: Smoking can put excessive stress on your tissues leading to their rapid degeneration.
- Avoid joint injury: If you suffer from a joint injury, you become predisposed to developing arthritis. Take precautions to stay clear of any joint injury.
- Add fish to your diet: Fish is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. This nutrient effectively helps in reducing joint inflammation.
The concluding note
Albeit the fact that there is no arthritis cure, it is possible to live a healthy life and alleviate symptoms of this ailment. The early symptoms of arthritis allow us to take preventive measures and avail treatment at a sooner stage.
You can consult Dr Debashish Chanda – best bone & joint specialist at the CK Birla Hospital to learn more about arthritis symptoms and treatment.
Also, read: Can you prevent osteoporosis by just increasing your calcium intake?