What is the Cause of Arthritis?
Arthritis is a disease which affects the musculoskeletal system mainly in the joints. It is described as the leading cause of disability among individuals aged 55 and up. According to the US National Library of medicine those who are having difficulties moving around and/or experience a certain pain and stiffness in their body could be diagnosed as having arthritis. In most instances arthritis causes significant pain and swelling in the joints. Over a prolonged period of time the joints can begin to suffer serious damage as well as cause problems with patient’s eyes, skin, and other organs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conclude that about 1 out of every 5 Americans have been medically diagnosed with having arthritis. As the population continues to age the estimates are that those numbers will increase by as much as 67% by the year 2030. Since arthritis comes in many different forms the causes and effects may vary from patient to patient.
How the Joints Work
To fully understand the concept of what is going on when someone suffers from arthritis it is first important to understand how the joints work. In a nutshell, the joints are where the bones connect to each other. Ligaments are designed to keep the bones together. Ligaments are rubber band like parts of the body that not only hold the bones together but will also help your muscles to relax and contract appropriately.
To keep the two bones that are connected from rubbing against each other and causing friction, cartilage covers the bones. This allows a normal working joint to move without complication. Capsules surround the joints. Between the joint and the joint cavity there is synovial fluids which nourish both the joint and the cartilage surrounding the bones.
Factors that Can Contribute to Arthritis
Now that you have a better understanding of how the bones and joints operate you can better understand the different causes and factors that can attribute to your chances of developing arthritis in your lifetime. If you have arthritis this means that there is something wrong with your joints. Of course the cause will greatly depend on the type of arthritis that you’ve been diagnosed with. For instance it could be that your cartilage is wearing down, a lack of fluids, infection, or a combination of several other factors. Studies have shown that those diagnosed with arthritis typically have multiple factors working against them. Some of the factors that could lead to higher chances of arthritis include: your genetic makeup, a job that is physically damaging (that involves a lot of repetitive movement of the joints), a previous injury such as a car accident or slip and fall, infections or allergic reactions could cause temporary arthritis known as reactive arthritis, certain foods and medications can develop arthritis like symptoms, obesity in which the weight is adding strain to the joints, and/or an autoimmune disease.
If you feel that you could be suffering from any form of arthritis it is ideal that you reach out to your doctor for assistance and proper diagnosis. For temporary relief there are plenty of remedies that other patients have tried and liked.
What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?
While there are more than 100 types of arthritis out there, one thing remains common about them all: pain and swelling of the joints. In most instances, arthritis will begin slowly first starting off with minimal symptoms and pain and then increase with time. Just like most diseases, the symptoms can vary from person to person. Therefore, when reading the symptoms below, simply use this as a guide and never self diagnose yourself as these symptoms could very well mean something else.
The most common symptom that is felt long before anything else is fatigue. Feeling overly tired generally precedes the other symptoms by as far out as a few weeks to a few months. You might find that it comes and goes from day to day, and may even be accompanied by the feeling of simply not feeling well or feeling a bit down (depression.)
- Morning Stiffness
Another early sign that you may have arthritis is feeling stiff first thing in the morning. The stiffness can last for a few minutes and is typically a sign of a degenerative arthritis type. If the stiffness lasts for several hours, this could be a symptom of inflammatory type of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis. Stiffness can also occur after a prolonged period of inactivity such as sitting for hours or taking a nap.
- Stiffness in the Joints
A common early sign of inflammatory arthritis is when stiffness of one or more smaller joints occurs. The stiffness can come and go, remain constant, and can happen at any time of day whether you’ve been active or not. Stiffness will likely start with the hands joints and will develop slowly.
- Joint Pain
As the joints become stiff it is accompanied by tenderness or pain when they begin to move and while at rest. This can affect any part of the body. Some of the more common areas to begin feeling joint pain is the fingers and the wrist however, it can also be experienced in the shoulders, knees, feet, and ankles.
- Joint Swelling
Inflammation of the joints is a common symptom early on. Some patients have reported feeling as if their hands were bigger than normal. Swelling of the joints can also cause them to feel warm to the touch. Patients have been known to have flare ups which can last from a few days to weeks which can increase in pattern over any given period of time.
When symptoms such as joint pain and inflammation are prominent a low grade fever could follow. However, keep in mind that the fever should never be higher than 100 degrees or else this is a sign of something else.
- Tingling and/or Numbness
Inflammation of the tendons over time can create pressure to the nerves. When this happens signs of numbness, tingling, and/or burning can be felt. You might even hear a crackling or squeaking noise from the affected joints as the cartilage grinds against the joints.
Again, keep in mind that these are only a few of the symptoms you might experience if you suffer from arthritis. If you suspect you may have arthritis schedule an appointment with your doctor for a consultation.