Don’t delay! Brush up your basics about arthritis and watch out for the pains

On this World Arthritis Day, an expert tells us about the basics of this health concern, its impact on our everyday life, and its treatment.
World Arthritis Day
Watch out for these signs and symptoms. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Biren Nadkarni Updated: 30 Oct 2023, 13:48 pm IST
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Every year, World Arthritis Day falls on October 12. This year’s theme is Don’t Delay, Connect Today. It is observed to raise awareness about this inflammatory condition that causes pain and stiffness in joints that can worsen with age. It can affect one joint or multiple joints.

Arthritis affects millions across the world. It is a debilitating condition that restricts your range of movement and affects your functional life. If left untreated, it may inhibit your movement altogether.

World Arthritis Day
Dear women, you need to read this for the sake of your joints. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
What are the symptoms of arthritis?

Regardless of the type of arthritis, one may experience fever, lymph nodes swelling, weight loss, tiredness, inability to use your hand, difficulty in walking, and poor sleep.

Here is how you can distinguish regular pain from early signs of arthritis:
  • ·Joint pain
  • · Stiffness and swelling in joints
  • · Your range of motion may also decrease
  • · Redness of the skin around the joint.
  • · Unexplained joint pain usually accompanied by fever
  • · Difficulty in carrying out daily chores due to joint pain
  • · Pain killers also cannot cure joint pains
What is the most common type of arthritis?

There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. Two of the most common types are:1. Osteoarthritis (OA): Osteoarthritis affects older people especially after the age of 50 years. It is a degenerative joint disease in which the pain or swelling occurs due to the progressive loss of cartilage in the joints. Osteoarthritis can affect almost any joint in the body, but commonly occurs in the weight-bearing joints such as knees and hips. It can also affect the fingers and any joint with previous injury from trauma, infection, or inflammation. The onset of osteoarthritis is gradual and has no serious debilitating effect in the beginning in many people, although it can change the shape and appearance of the joint.

Also, read: Regular knee pain can be an early sign of arthritis. Here’s everything you should know about it

2. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): This can occur at any age, it can occur in younger people also as young as 30 years and mostly found in between 30-50 years of age. The prevalence is higher in women by two to three times more as compared to men. It tends to involve pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body. Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis is also one form of arthritis and it affects the young population usually between 12-18 years of age.

World Arthritis Day
Rheumatoid arthritis can only be controlled, not cured. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Who is at the risk of developing arthritis?

Arthritis may not be at the top of your mind now, but it’s important to pay attention to the little habits you do that can cause issues down the road. This year’s theme also suggests don’t delay and connect today, and so, as soon as you notice any of the above stated symptoms, immediately see an orthopedic doctor.

Also, read: Suffering from arthritis? These exercises can help you cope with knee pain

Now let’s see who are at the risk of arthritis:
  • People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop arthritis. The more weight you put on, the more is the amount of burden you give to your hips, back, and feet.
  • Overconsumption of processed foods and foods like sugar and white flour can lead to weight gain, which is hard on sore joints. Replace them with fruits, nuts and whole grains.
  • Texting frequently and holding your phone in the exact same position can cause ‘smartphone thumb’. Texting stresses joints in your hands, especially your thumbs. So, if you want to keep arthritis at bay – minimize thumb texting or use the voice function to keep texting hands-free. Texting can be bad for your shoulders and neck, too.
  • Wearing high heels all the time places your feet in an awkward position that stresses joints, strains muscles, and can throw your back out of alignment. So, women who wear heels daily must keep this point in their minds that this habit may increase their risk of developing osteoarthritis and foot pain.
  • Injuries also act as risk factors. People who injured a knee in adolescence or young adulthood were three times more likely to develop osteoarthritis in that knee, compared to those who had not suffered an injury.
Treatment for arthritis

Arthritis can be treated through occupational or physical therapy, exercise, and over-the-counter pain relieving medication.Alternate medicine like Ayurveda, massages with medicinal oils and homeopathy also offer relief to some people in the early stages of arthritis.

Arthritis is a naging problem: Shutterstock

Surgical options for the treatment of arthritis include arthroscopy, synovectomy, osteotomy, and total joint replacement. While the first three offer relief from pain, they cannot cure the condition. The only cure for arthritis is joint replacement surgery.

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Lifestyle changes are important:

Eat sensibly, control your weight, and exercise regularly — these are all mantras for keeping knee problems at bay. Apart from it:

  • Keep injuries at bay
  • Pay attention to your posture, avoid high heels
  • Keep a regular tab on your vitamin B 12 and vitamin D 3 levels, the latter being slightly more important in case of arthritis.
  • Eat a good diet, include nuts and seeds like walnuts, cashew nuts, and pistachios in your diet. Also include more vegetables such as garlic and onions into your diet
  • When it comes to your rotis, try those made of jowar, nachani, raagi and bajra. These are great for your arthritis-ridden joints because they contain nutrients that help ease your pain.

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About the Author

Dr Biren Nadkarni, Senior Consultant Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Surgeon, Sitaram Bhartia Institute and Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi ...Read More

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