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Arthritis
Student Health Information Page compiled by: Syeda Khan

Facts About Arthritis

  • Arthritis is not a single disease. There are over 100 types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.
  • According to the CDC 1 in every 250 children are affected by some sort of arthritis.
  • Arthritis can lead to physical inactivity which is a risk factor for other disease.
  • It is the nation’s leading cause for disability. According to CDC19 million U.S. adults report that they have activity limitations due to arthritis.
  • Arthritis is highly prevalent. Over 50 million American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is inflammation of joints
  • Typically, pain, aching, or swelling
  • Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly
  • More common among people over the age of 65
Arthritis

Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis:
The most common type of arthritis that has wear and tear damage to the joints cartilage. Not symmetric, and pain and stiffness gets worse as the day goes on.

Rheumatoid:
The body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule. Pain and swellin on both sides of the body, often in small joints such as fingers and wrists. But large joints can be affected.

Risk Factors

Family history:
Some types of arthritis may be inherited and are more common within a family. One is more likely to develop arthritis if they have a parent or sibling with the disorder.

Age:
There are different types of arthritis. Some of these types such as gout, rheumatoid, and osteoarthritis become more common as people get older.

Sex:
Women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely to develop gout. Past joint injury-People who have injured a joint are more likely to develop arthritis.

Obesity:
Excessive pounds means more stress on the joints. Joints that do not like excessive weight include the knee, hip, and spine.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

The most common signs and symptoms include:
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

Diagnostic Testing

Various tests can help determine whether or not patient has arthritis and they include:
  • X-rays- Low levels of radiation to visualize the bone, show cartilage bone damage, and bone spurs.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT)-CT scanners take X-rays from different angles and gives a cross sectional view of internal structure. CT scans helps to visualize both bone and surrounding soft tissue.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)-Combines radio waves with strong magnetic fields in order to produce a detailed cross-sectional image of tissues such as cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
  • Ultrasound- Uses high frequency sound waves to image soft tissue, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures.

Medical Treatment for Arthritis

Medications vary depend on type of arthritis. Commonly used medications include:

Analgesics-used to treat pain but can’t treat inflammation. Examples include:

  • Tylenol
  • Tramadol
  • Narcotics that contain Oxytocin
Nonsteradoil anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)-NSAIDS can reduce pain and inflammation. These Include over the counter medications such as:
  • Advil
  • Motrin
  • Aleve
Counterirritants-Varieties of creams and ointments that contain methanol or capsaicin. Rubbing on skin over aching joints can interfere with the transmission of pain signals from the joints itself.

Disease Modifying Antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS)-Slow or stop the immune system from attacking the joints.

Biologics-Are used with DMARDS are genetically engineered drugs that target protein molecules that are involved in the immune response.

Corticosteroids-Reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system.

Physical therapy can help for some types of arthritis. Exercise can help to improve the muscles surrounding the joints.

Non-Medical Treatment

Lifestyle Remedies
  • Weight Loss-If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help reduce the baring stress on weight-baring joints. This can increase your ability to move your joints and limit future joint injury.
  • Exercise-Regular exercise can help keep joints flexible. Activities such as swimming can help reduce the stress of weight bearing joints.
  • Heat and cold-Heating pads and ice packs may help relieve arthritis pain.
  • Assistive devices- Using canes, walkers, and other assistive devices can help joints and improve the ability to do tasks.
Alternative Medicine
  • Yoga or Tai Chi- slow stretching movements may help to improve joint flexibility and range of motion in people with some type of arthritis.
  • Massage- Kneading of muscles and light stroking can help create increased blood flow and warm affected joints, which helps to temporarily relieve pain.
  • Acupuncture- A type of therapy that uses fine needles in the skin to reduce many types of pain including some caused by arthritis.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)- A small device that stimulates nerves near aching joints.