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Arthritis

Arthritis AnatomyArthritic pain is a general term referring to pain or discomfort involving the joints or connective tissue. As you get older, certain changes occur in the body such as joint stiffness, loss of muscle and some loss of energy. Physical stresses build up over time as well as an inability to recover as quickly from falls or other accidents. This can lead to excessive wear on the joints of your body and arthritic pain.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, also called degenerative arthritis. It is reported that over 50% of people over the age of 65 suffer pain and disability as a result of osteoarthritis. This type of arthritis begins years before any bone changes are found on x-ray and is primarily the “wear and tear” arthritis associated with every day life. In many cases, your chiropractor can help you to accommodate this change in structure. Your chiropractor can free up related joints so there is a more even share of the load. Reducing tension in muscles can descrease inflammation and pain. There are also a wealth of postural exercises and day to day tips that can help you to help yourself.

It is important to remember that in most cases, osteoarthritis is not an event that suddenly happens. The spine, hips and knees are particularly susceptible to such strains and may show signs of degeneration producing arthritic pain and stiffness in the surrounding tissues.

Symptons Of Arthritis

There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and related diseases.

The most common types include osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), fibromyalgia and gout.

All the different forms of arthritis cause pain in different ways.

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:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Deformity of the Joint

Many of the forms of arthritis can cause symptoms affecting various organs of the body that do not directly involve the joints. Symptoms in some patients with certain forms of arthritis can also include (but not limited to):

  • Fever
  • Gland swelling
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling unwell
  • Rash
  • Nodules
  • Urethritis
  • Nerve entrapment causing pins & needles and numbness
  • Abnormalities of organs such as the lungs, eyes, heart, or kidneys

If joint pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, loss of motion or deformity occurs, medical evaluation is required. Even minor joint symptoms that persist unexplained should be evaluated.

For many forms of arthritis, it is essential that patients have an early evaluation as it is clear that this can both prevent damage and disability as well as make optimal treatment

Causes of Arthritic Pain

Osteoarthritis usually happens gradually over time. Some risk factors that might lead to it include:

  • Being overweight
  • Getting older
  • Joint injury
  • Occupation
  • Joints that are not properly formed
  • A genetic defect in joint cartilage
  • Stresses on the joints from certain jobs and playing sports.

An infection or injury to the joints can exacerbate this natural breakdown of cartilage tissue.

In other forms of arthritis scientists and doctors do not know exactly what causes the immune system to turn against the body’s own tissues but research over the last few years has begun to piece together the factors involved:

  • Genetics
  • Environmental Factors
  • Hormonal Factors
  • Infection
  • Viruses

As research continues into arthritis we hope that a further understanding of the causes of arthritis lead to further treatments.

Investigation for Arthritic Pain

Like every evaluation, the start to a diagnosis is a consultation followed by a physical examination. Your specialist will inspect your joints for swelling, pain, tenderness, warmth and visible bruising. A visual assessment is followed by evaluation of the movement and specific orthopaedic tests to determine integrity.

After a provisional diagnosis is made by your specialist, it may be suggested you have the joint imaged by:

  • X-ray
  • MRI Scan
  • CT Scan
  • Ultrasound

With the suspicion of arthritis you will be recommended a series of have blood tests.

On rare occasions your specialist may request a nerve conduction study to look for nerve injury and compression.

The systemic nature of some forms of arthritis means that investigations for other organs may be undertaken including:

  • ECG
  • Echocardiogram
  • Urine Tests
  • Synovial Fluid Tests
  • Arthroscopy
Treatments for Arthritis Pain

At Healthplus Clinics we combine treatments to fit a patient’s needs, lifestyle, and health. Osteoarthritis treatment has four main goals:

  • Improve joint function
  • Keep a healthy body weight
  • Control pain
  • Achieve a healthy lifestyle.

Osteoarthritis treatment plans can involve:

  • Exercise
  • Weight control
  • Rest and joint care
  • Non-drug pain relief techniques to control pain
  • Medicines
  • Complementary and alternative therapies
  • Surgery including joint replacement
  • Joint Injection

Surgical Options for Arthritis

 

  • Arthrodesis
  • Arthroscopy
  • Fusion
  • Joint Resurfacing
  • Joint Revision
  • Minimally Invasive Total Joint Replacement
  • Osteotomy
  • Synovectomy
  • Total Joint Replacement (TJR)

In other forms of arthritis, and dependent on the systemic nature of the condition will require further treatment option from multiple specialities including but not limited to: cardiology, respiratory, dermatology, orthopaedics, urology, and neurosurgery.

Complication of Arthritis Pain and Injury

If you suspect any of the following please make an urgent appointment or attend accident and emergency:

  • Patients in whom septic arthritis is suspected – these should be seen immediately.
  • Children with a limp – to exclude septic arthritis, non-accidental injury, slipped capital femoral epiphysis.
  • Patients with polyarticular joint symptoms need urgent referral to a rheumatologist without waiting for radiography results.

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