Overview

Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis

Osteoarthritis causes cartilage — the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint — to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.

Uric acid crystals, which form when there’s too much uric acid in your blood, can cause gout. Infections or underlying disease, such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis.

Treatments vary depending on the type of arthritis. The main goals of arthritis treatments are to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:

Causes

The two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — damage joints in different ways.

Osteoarthritis

The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint’s cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.

Osteoarthritis also affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bones and deterioration of the connective tissues that attach muscle to bone and hold the joint together. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.

Rheumatoid arthritis

In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining (synovial membrane) becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joi

Risk factors

Family history. Some types of arthritis run in families, so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have the disorder. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis.

Age. The risk of many types of arthritis — including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout — increases with age.
Your sex. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while most of the people who have gout, another type of arthritis, are men.

Previous joint injury. People who have injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, are more likely to eventually develop arthritis in that joint.

Obesity. Carrying excess pounds puts stress on joints, particularly your knees, hips and spine. People with obesity have a higher risk of developing arthritis.

Diagnosis

During the physical exam, your doctor will check your joints for swelling, redness and warmth. He or she will also want to see how well you can move your joints.

Depending on the type of arthritis suspected, your doctor may suggest some of the following tests.

Laboratory tests
The analysis of different types of body fluids can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you may have. Fluids commonly analyzed include blood, urine and joint fluid. To obtain a sample of your joint fluid, your doctor will cleanse and numb the area before inserting a needle in your joint space to withdraw some fluid.

Imaging

These types of tests can detect problems within your joint that may be causing your symptoms. Examples include:

X-rays. Using low levels of radiation to visualize bone, X-rays can show cartilage loss, bone damage and bone spurs. X-rays may not reveal early arthritic damage, but they are often used to track progression of the disease.
Computerized tomography (CT). CT scanners take X-rays from many different angles and combine the information to create cross-sectional views of internal structures. CTs can visualize both bone and the surrounding soft tissues.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Combining radio waves with a strong magnetic field, MRI can produce more-detailed cross-sectional images of soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Ultrasound. This technology uses high-frequency sound waves to image soft tissues, cartilage and fluid-containing structures near the joints (bursae). Ultrasound is also used to guide needle placement for joint aspirations and injections.

Treatment

Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function. You may need to try several different treatments, or combinations of treatments, before you determine what works best for you.

Medications

The medications used to treat arthritis vary depending on the type of arthritis. Commonly used arthritis medications include:

Painkillers. These medications help reduce pain, but have no effect on inflammation. An over-the-counter option includes acetaminophen (Tylenol, others).

For more-severe pain, opioids might be prescribed, such as tramadol (Ultram, ConZip), oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone, others) or hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER). Opioids act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. When opioids are used for a long time, they may become habit-forming, causing mental or physical dependence.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs reduce both pain and inflammation. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve). Some types of NSAIDs are available only by prescription.

Oral NSAIDs can cause stomach irritation and may increase your risk of heart attack or stroke. Some NSAIDs are also available as creams or gels, which can be rubbed on joints.

Counterirritants. Some varieties of creams and ointments contain menthol or capsaicin, the ingredient that makes hot peppers spicy. Rubbing these preparations on the skin over your aching joint may interfere with the transmission of pain signals from the joint itself.
Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Often used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, DMARDs slow or stop your immune system from attacking your joints. Examples include methotrexate (Trexall, Rasuvo, others) and hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil).

Biologic response modifiers. Typically used in conjunction with DMARDs, biologic response modifiers are genetically engineered drugs that target various protein molecules that are involved in the immune response.

There are many types of biologic response modifiers. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors are commonly prescribed. Examples include etanercept (Enbrel, Erelzi, Eticovo) and infliximab (Remicade, Inflectra, others).

Other medications target other substances that play a role in inflammation, such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), Janus kinase enzymes, and certain types of white blood cells known as B cells and T cells.

Corticosteroids. This class of drugs, which includes prednisone (Prednisone Intensol, Rayos) and cortisone (Cortef), reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or can be injected directly into the painful joint.

What will the longer term hold for Me?

It’s difficult to mention surely how arthritis will affect you over time. In some sorts of arthritis symptoms can come and go.

Most people with arthritis don’t have major mobility problems, and effective treatment will help reduce the danger of joint damage, even in additional severe cases.

There is plenty you’ll do to stay positive and proactive altogether aspects of managing your arthritis and your overall health.

If you’re worried about what impact arthritis will wear your working life, it’s important to understand that you simply have rights and options.

If you’re employed your arthritis might mean that you simply got to change aspects of your job or maybe train for a special role.

Your employer features a duty to form sure that your arthritis doesn’t make it difficult for you to try to to your job, or that you’re uncomfortable at work. Having a talk together with your manager about your condition, how it affects you, and the way your employer could be ready to assist you may be a useful initiative to unlock the rights and support you’re entitled to by law.

Being in pain from arthritis can often cause anxiety and depression. It’s important to tackle feelings like this, because they will affect how well you manage your condition.

Talking to your partner, relative, friend, or a doctor can really help. you would possibly find it helpful to undertake something like cognitive behaviour therapy, or mindfulness. These are talking therapies that have helped people cope better with the consequences of arthritis.

If you’ve got arthritis it does have the potential to possess an impression on your quality of life. However, with the proper treatment, support, knowledge and approach, you’ll be ready to live a satisfying , happy and successful life.

The more you’re ready to stay physically and socially active the more control you’ll have over your life, and therefore the less control arthritis will have over you.