What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disorder of the joints in the human body. A joint is a place where two bones converge and function to facilitate movement. Arthritis is portrayed by inflammation of the joints, be it one or more. One of the prime characteristics of this disorder is  joint pain which is medically referred to as arthralgia. 

Over a 100 different types of arthritis have been discovered. A broad spectrum of arthritis have been found arising due to diverse causes namely osteoarthritis (condition related to the deterioration of cartilage ) and rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune condition). This broad spectrum of arthritis is a chronic illness in the Unites States.

Primarily, the cause of arthritis is dependent on the type of arthritis and it could be caused due to injury (which will concurrently lead to osteoarthritis), metabolic abnormalities (gout and pseudogout), genetics, infections (due to bacteria or viruses) and misdirected immune system (autoimmunity).

Arthritis is categorised as a rheumatic disease. Rheumatic diseases are distinct individual conditions, with different characteristics, treatment and therapy, complications and prognosis. Although, they may be different due to several factors, they have similar features too. These include the proneness to affect parts of the body like the joints, muscles, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, etc. In addition, they have the ability to affect other parts of the body.

  • Statistics
  • Risk Factors for Arthritis
  • Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
  • Arthritis Diagnosis
  • Treatment for Arthritis
  • Prognosis for Arthritis
  • Preventing Arthritis
  • National Financial Impact of Arthritis
  • Who is a Rheumatologist?
  • What is the Arthritis Foundation?
  • Menstrual Periods and Arthritis
  • Conclusion



Arthritis can affect men, women and children. Approximately 350 million people worldwide are said to be affected by arthritis. In the United States alone, 40 million people are affected by arthritis which include over 250,000 children.

Furthermore, in the United Stated 27 million people are affected by osteoarthritis. Around 1.3 million, in America, are recorded to be affected by rheumatoid arthritis too. More than half of those who are afflicted with arthritis are said to be under the age of 65 with nearly 60% of the afflicted patients being women.

Risk Factors for Arthritis

There are certain risk factors associated to arthritis. The major risk factor that can contribute to this disorder are the genes which are inherited. Thus, genetics factors have an impact on arthritis and play a major role.  Another type of arthritis is trauma-related. It has the tendency to injure certain areas of the body which can disable a person from performing certain activities.

Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis

Primary symptoms linked to arthritis include pain and restricted joint functions, making movement difficult. Joint inflammation which come about due to arthritis is marked by stiffness of the joints, redness, swelling and warmth. In addition, soreness or pain of the affected joints can also be present.

Various forms of arthritis are present. As they are classed as rheumatic diseases, arthritis has the ability to affect many organs present in the body which may not have any direct links to the joint in question. Thus, patients may manifest symptoms like fever, swelling of glands (swollen lymph nodes), loss of weight, fatigue, feeling indisposed,etc. Patients may also show symptoms related to defects of certain organs like the lungs, heart, kidneys and so on.

Arthritis Diagnosis

The first course of action in the diagnosis of arthritis involves the initial meeting between the doctor and the arthritis sufferer to review symptoms. The medical doctor will analyse the symptoms, examine the joints for inflammation and evaluate joints for deformity. The doctor will also ask a number of questions and examine other parts of the body that may be affected by arthritis, which may be present as an inflammation. Moreover, a number of tests will be performed which include blood, urine, joint fluid and X-rays. These will aid with the diagnosis process which will be based on the symptoms, the spread of the inflammation and the results of the tests performed. Importantly, a number of visits to the doctor may be required before the doctor diagnoses your condition. A rheumatologist is a doctor who has had special training in arthritis and related diseases.

Many types of arthritis are more of a nuisance or an inconvenience rather than a serious illness. Having said that, millions of people suffer from the pain, disability and complications that result from arthritis in a daily basis. Early and accurate diagnosis will be very helpful in preventing the irreparable damage and deformity that may come about. Exercises recommended by therapists, rest, medication, physical therapy and surgery are some of the treatments that can be administered. It can change long term consequences for arthritis sufferers.

It is important to note that, the patient and the doctor should communicate in a regular basis for the most favourable health outcomes before and more specifically after the diagnosis has been made. It allows the doctor to assess patients symptoms as well as his or her response to the treatments prescribed. In addition, the patients get to be well informed of their current situation and its effect on them if they communicate with their respective doctors time to time.

Treatment for Arthritis

Treatment of arthritis is completely dependent upon the type of arthritis present in the patient. Early and accurate diagnosis will improve or increase the possibilities of a successful treatment. Treatments for arthritis generally include physical therapies, splints, ice packs, anti-inflammatory drugs, paraffin wax baths, pain killers, immune targeted medications and surgical treatments.

 Diet for Arthritis  

Generally, for the many types of arthritis present, diet has very little or no role at all. However, fish oil seem to be helpful for arthritis. These oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can play a tremendous role in arthritis patients. Some sufferers of arthritis have reported certain benefits experienced due to the intake of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. 

A type of arthritis that is diet related is gout. Gout is said to worsen due to intake of food that is highly rich in purines. For example, red meats and shellfish are high in purine content. Furthermore, some foods raise the levels of uric acid, like alcohol  (beer). Some foods are loaded with fructose, for example corn syrup present in soft drinks are rich in fructose. In addition, people suffering from celiac disease should have a gluten free diet. Food like wheat, barley, rye, food made with grains, etc are gluten containing and must be avoided as it can aggravate their condition.

Prognosis for Arthritis

The prognosis for arthritis patients mainly depends on the severity of the disease, related complications and the presence of other non-joint problems  i.e. organs and other parts of the body involved. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis can affect organs like the lungs, kidneys, eye, etc. Moreover, chronic joint inflammation can give rise to ineradicable damage to the joints involved which will concurrently bring about loss of functions making movement facilitation hard or not at all possible.

Preventing Arthritis

As most forms of arthritis present are inherited to some extent, there is absolutely no possible way you can prevent it. However, arthritis that arise due to injury of joints could be easily avoided by abiding to safety rules and regulations in order to prevent injuries being sustained. Arthritis that follow infection, in the case of septic arthritis, reactive arthritis, Whipple’s disease etc, could be prevented by not being exposed or infected by these causative organisms, be it bacterial or viral. That is the only possible way out from arthritis arising from infections. Nevertheless, the extent to which this is feasible depends on the situation.

National Financial Impact of Arthritis

The national financial impact of arthritis for the United States is recorded to be above $50 billion annually. This figure is inclusive of hospitalisation, medications and drugs, visits to doctors, physical therapies, home care nursing, lost salaries, early death and family discordance. However, it is exclusive of the nearly $2 billion spent annually in the United States on uncertain and unproven treatments by patients who try to handle the arthritis symptoms by themselves.

Who is a Rheumatologist? 

A rheumatologist is a medical doctor who has specialised in the treatment of arthritis and other rheumatic disorders. They show special interest in symptoms such as incomprehensible rash, fever, arthritis, anaemia, feebleness, loss of weight, weariness, joint pain, muscle pain, autoimmune disease and anorexia. Part of their profession is to act as consultants. When other health care professionals request information, they act like investigators acquiring the necessary information.

In addition, they have special skills in evaluating the many types of arthritis that may show up in patients. They have special interest in rheumatoid arthritis, spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, erythromelalgia, Still’s disease, dermatomyositis, Sjögren’s syndrome, vasculitis,fibromyalgia, scleroderma,  Lyme disease, osteomyelitis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, back pain, gout, pseudogout, reactive arthritis, Kawasaki disease,  Raynaud’s disease, iritis, and many others.

To become a rheumatologist one must first complete four years of medical school. After which he or she has to complete one year of internship in internal medicine and two years of internal medicine residency fellowship.  For rheumatology certification there is a sub-specialty board for the certification which is offered by the American Board of Internal Medicine. This board will provide certification for the approved rheumatologists.

Paediatric rheumatologists are also available who are doctors who provide medical care to children who are afflicted with arthritis. They provide additional care and advice to their families as well. They are paediatricians who have completed an extra two or three years of training in paediatric rheumatology which is board certified.

What is the Arthritis Foundation?

The Arthritis Foundation is a nation wide health care organisation providing voluntary services to all forms of arthritis that show up in people. This foundation has national and international related programs which also provide with invaluable support for scientific research, public awareness and education for affected parties, parents and families of arthritis. They also provide training for specialists, public education and local community assistance.

Menstrual Periods and Arthritis

Many women experience worsening of arthritis symptoms before and during their menstrual periods. When treating women with arthritis, it is quite common to come across women complaining of a monthly worsening of joint pain, stiffness and swelling  which is not a coincidence. Many types of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases are known to have a higher prevalence rate in women rather than in men.

Researchers have found that the female reproductive hormones have an effect on the immune system of women. Autoimmunity is said to arise when levels of certain hormones change. These hormones may be testosterone or oestrogen. Autoimmunity is a condition which arise when the immune system, which functions to attack foreign particles (infections), start attacking one’s own normal body tissues like the skin, joints, lungs, liver, etc. A typical feature of an autoimmune disease is the inflammation which can come about in various body parts.

Autoimmune diseases are also portrayed by the abnormal production of antibodies called autoantibodies which attack one’s body tissues. This is a result of a disorder of the immune system. It is important to understand that autoimmune diseases do not occur only in disease states which feature inflammation of the joints such as systemic lupus erythematosus, Sjogren’s syndrome, and rheumatoid arthritis. It can also occur in disease states that feature other organs of the body such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and juvenile diabetes mellitus.


Video of Arthritis

When women complain about having arthritis symptoms that worsen before or during their monthly cycles, health care professionals will recommend adjusting or even adding medications in order to reduce inflammation selectively at appropriate times. In this case, just before and during the period. The reasoning behind this adjustment (short-term) is that women’s levels of hormones change during this period which affect the immune system and may make it more active temporarily.


Arthritis is a disorder of the joints featuring inflammation. A joint is a place in the body where two bones converge which function to facilitate movement. Arthritis is portrayed by inflammation of the joints, be it one or more. One of the prime characteristics of this disorder is  joint pain. Another symptoms of arthritis include limited function of the joints due to inflammation. Men, women, children and adults are all likely to be afflicted with arthritis. Treatments for arthritis generally include physical therapies, splinting, cold pack application, anti-inflammatory applications, paraffin wax dips, pain medications, immune targeted medications and surgeries. Prognosis for arthritis patients mainly depends on the severity of the disease, related complications and whether there are other non-joint manifestations. Early and accurate diagnosis is important to prevent irreparable damage and deformity.




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