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Arthritis is inflammation of a joint, an area of the body where two bones meet or connect. Although there are 100 different forms of arthritis, the 2 most common forms are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 60%-75% who suffer arthritis are women, this usually starts at the age of 40 onwards. Still, there are men and children who also suffer this disease.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the wear and tear of a cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion to the joints, so when this breaks down it causes pain, stiffness and swelling in joints. At this time, there is no cure for this disease, but can be prevented or managed.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is another form of arthritic disease, and the most feared form. This disease causes chronic inflammation of the joints, it will eventually attack the body due to a faulty immune system. Called a autoimmune disorder, when your body’s defense system wrongly attacks your own body tissues, which leads to weakening of the bones & muscles, resulting in joint deformity, destruction (destroys the cartilage and joint within the joint), & loss of function. There is no cure for this form of disease also. It can only be prevented, or treated to manage it.

 

Signs/Symptoms:

-Pain, stiffness, or difficulty moving joints (mostly the hips, knees, lower back, wrists, knuckles, or small joints of the fingers, toes)

-Swelling of joints

-For serious cases (rheumatoid arthritis), symptoms includes exhaustion/feel more tired, weight loss/loss of appetite, low-grade fevers, pain & stiffness in the morning that lasts longer before you start feeling better

 

Common Causes/Factors:

For RA, it is the faulty immune system. This means that some cells in the defense system are not working properly, and start to aggressively take action against healthy issues in the body, which then creates inflammation. It will attack the synovium, or the thin layer of tissue which lines the joints and tendon sheaths.

For OA, there are a few causes/factors found on the internet:

  • Age – probably due to weakening of the muscles, joint slowly wearing out over time (wear & tear), or body less able to heal itself.
  • Obesity – Since arthritis are all about joints, when you weigh more than what you’re supposed to be, you are placing extra strain on your joints.
  • Joint Injury – repetitive tasks that demands very hard physical activities or a major operation on a joint that may lead to arthritis in the future
  • Genetic makeup – Not clear which genes are involved
  • Infections or allergic reactions

 

Basic Prevention/Management:

  • See your doctor first at early stages or if symptoms are showing – Seeking medical attention first will help determine what steps you need to take. Doctors will run tests, order x-rays, and examine your joints.
  • Work out regularly and stay active – recommended are strength training, stretching, and water workouts.

Increasing your exercise, may lead to decrease of medicine intake. With exercise, you’ll be able to increase your strength, compared to medicine intake, which can only soothe the pain & will not improve your flexibility. By exercise, you’ll also be avoiding future joint replacement surgery.

 

  • Stretching – warm up before stretching to prepare your muscles and joints. Stretching improves flexibility, lessen stiffness, and reduces pain.
  • Apply heat or cold – To help ease the pain, you can use either heat or cold therapies. However do not apply ice or heat packs directly to your skin. Heat lamps, reheatable pads, ice pack, a bag of frozen peas, and consider wearing gloves to bed like Isotoners.
  • Maintain weight – Manage your weight. Ask your doctor what food you can eat, and how much weight you need to maintain.
  • Physical Therapy or Occupational Therapy – depending on your doctor’s recommendation, and the severity of your arthritis
  • Medications – this again will depend on the severity of your arthritis, and your doctor’s diagnosis/recommendation