Ankle pain, sharp shooting pain in the shoulders, and creaking knees and hips aren’t always aches that come with age. In many cases, the pain might be linked to a condition called arthritis. Arthritis is a disorder in the joints, which is typically characterized by inflammation. A joint is where two different bones meet, and it works by moving the body parts connected by the bones. Arthritis pain is a debilitating pain caused by the inflammation of one or more of these joints.
Though the term arthritis means joint inflammation, it actually has more than 200 specific rheumatic conditions and diseases. It is also used to describe issues with the tissue that surrounds the joints, as well as the connective tissues.
Rheumatic arthritis is characterized by aching, pain and stiffness in and around a number of joints. Symptoms develop gradually, usually with age (most commonly among those who are 65 years old and above). In some cases, symptoms can happen suddenly as well. Also, there are certain conditions of rheumatic arthritis that directly affects the immune system, as well as various internal organs.
Arthritis pain is a serious problem, as it can have a significant impact on a person’s life. The pain involved is obviously the main issue, but dealing with the day to day reality of arthritis can change the way people live their life, it can impact their livelihood, and cause issues with their social life.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis Pain
The most common symptoms of arthritis include pain and limited mobility and functionality of the joints. Inflammation of joints comes with stiffness, redness, swelling, and warmth. Inflamed joints can also feel tender to the touch.
Arthritis is a rheumatic disease, and as a result many of its forms can include symptoms that affect various internal organs of the body, even if they’re not directly involved with the joints. Some patients experience fever, swelling of the lymph nodes, fatigue, feeling unwell, weight loss, and even other organ abnormalities in heart, lungs and kidneys.
Possible Causes of Arthritis Pain
There is no single root cause for all types of arthritis, as different forms have different causes. Common causes includes injury (which often leads to osteoarthritis), hereditary factors which directly or indirectly affect bacterial and viral infections, metabolic abnormalities like gout and pseudogout, misdirected immune system such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. The major risk factors are genetics and trauma.
Arthritis itself is classified as a rheumatic disease, and there are many types of rheumatic diseases. Different rheumatic diseases are caused by a diverse range of different illnesses, with distinct symptoms, complications, prognoses, and treatments. All of them however, have the tendency to affect muscles, joints, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.
Diagnosis and Treatments for Arthritis Pain
To diagnose arthritis in a patient, healthcare professionals will review the patient’s history, examine the condition of the joins and look for signs of inflammation and deformity. Doctors will also ask questions about other parts of the body commonly affected by arthritis.
In most cases, doctors will for imaging tests, such as an x-ray, to better see and understand the condition of the patient. They will also test the condition of the blood, urine, and joint fluid using the respective tests. The doctor’s diagnosis is based on the findings of the tests.
Obviously, because there are many reasons for the pain, the treatment will depend on the doctor’s diagnosis of the specific type of arthritis present. This is where an accurate diagnosis comes into the picture – it is crucial for successful treatment.
Arthritic pain treatments usually include physical therapy, home remedies such as the application of a cold-pack, splinting, and the use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Also, overweight patients are encouraged to lose weight, since their heavier body weight puts too much stress on their knees and ankles, which can trigger pain.
In some cases, doctors may prescribe biological medications, immune-system altering medications, or even surgical procedures, typically joint replacement or joint surgery.
Of course, arthritis patients are encouraged to be more physically active (engage in low-impact activities, such as walking, biking and swimming) so they can watch their weight, and strengthen their muscles and bones. Actively managing the condition can help relieve the pain involved with arthritis, allowing patients to live a normal life.