Arthritis essentially refers to a condition of joint inflammation. This condition may occur as a natural response to disease or injury, and may be accompanied by pain, swelling, and stiffness. Chronic inflammation, as in the case of arthritis, may result in tissue damage. Movement of the patient may become difficult or painful due to an inflamed joint. Some types of arthritis may also affect other body parts, apart from joints, such as internal organs or the skin.
More than a hundred different types of arthritic conditions are known. The most common types of arthritis include the following:
Osteoarthritis: This is the most commonly occurring arthritis in both men and women. This condition occurs when the cartilage that covers the end of bones begins to wear away. With the protection of cartilage gone, the bones will rub against each other, causing swelling, and pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This is a long lasting condition that can affect any of the joints in the body except the lower back. Knees, hands and wrists are most commonly affected by this condition. With this type of arthritis, the body’s immune system gets affected and loses its defenses against the disease, causing the joints to swell.
Different symptoms will signify the different types of arthritis conditions. In case of osteoarthritis, the symptoms are usually not visible except just outside the affected joint. In case of rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms may include fever, fatigue, rashes, and inflammation around the joints. Other symptoms associated with arthritis are swelling, pain, stiffness, tenderness, warmth, and redness around the affected joints.
Pain management is an essential part of arthritis treatment process. Pain relieving medications such as NSAIDs, which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are used to provide relief to the patient. NSAIDs interfere with such chemicals in the body that are known to trigger inflammation and pain. Some of the NSAIDs may be available over the counter, while others may be prescribed by a physician.
Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatoid Drugs (DMARDs) may be used in more severe cases where the painkillers do not prove to be effective. These medications can help slow down the damage in joints, and are particularly recommended for patients with an overactive immune system. Corticosteroids may also be prescribed in certain conditions to reduce the immune response and bring down inflammation. Steroids may also be used if NSAIDs fail to address arthritis symptoms.