Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that first targets the lining of joints (synovium). Rheumatic conditions tend to involve pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in and around one or more joints. These symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body. Another such condition is Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis has been diagnosed with 33 million adults in America, and the count is still growing.

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones and joints wears down, allowing bones to rub together rather than giving them the protection and cushion they need. Cartilage is made up of collagen and other substances that make connective tissue both flexible and strong.

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Cartilage covers the ends of bones where they meet the joints — and deterioration over time can affect the shape and functionality of the joints, making it painful and difficult to carry out everyday tasks.

Few of the Causes Behind Arthritis Can Be:

  • Physical injury that leads to osteoarthritis

  • Metabolic abnormalities such as gout and pseudogout

  • Hereditary Factors: 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.

  • Bacterial or Viral Transfer: Directly or indirectly, bacteria can trigger arthritis. Septic Arthritis is a condition caused by bacteria, and it typically affects one large joint.

  • A Weak Immune System: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, which is prevalent mostly in hands and feet.

The above are risk factors that are overlooked by many people, but it is important to avoid the types of food and activity that will most likely increase your tendency to develop arthritis. However, there still are a few non- modifiable risk factors as the following:

  • Age: Arthritis is hugely popular in people over 65 years.

  • Sex: Most types of arthritis are more common in females, and 60 percent of all people with arthritis are female. Gout is more common in males than in females.

  • Genetic Factors: Specific genes associated with developing arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis or SLE, in some cases

The Modifiable Risk Factors Are:

  • Obesity/Over-Weight: Extra weight adds more pressure on the joints and is one of the major causes of risks of developing arthritis.

  • Injuries: Injuries heal, and even joint injuries are treatable

  • Occupation: Certain jobs require constant folding of knees or carrying loads that exert pressure on the joints as well as long term sitting. This can lead to arthritis, but with proper exercise, the risk can be reduced.

Treatment for Arthritis:

Arthritis is treatable. With a surgery such as a hip or a knee replacement (or the affected area), psychotherapy and medications such as steroids, narcotics or non-steroidal inflammatory drugs, arthritis is typically treated. A joint surgery has several benefits. It results in pain relief.

But questions are raised on how many surgeries are actually successful and if or not the surgery is worth the expenditure. The surgeries are reportedly 90-95% successful, but the cost of the surgery is over the top. The surgery also requires you to plan and follow strict rules with regard to everyday activities during the recovery including exercise, physical therapy, specific doses of medication, joint protection, set hours of rest, possible use of splints, etc.

Alternative Treatments for Arthritis:

Heat Therapy: It is a simple and very cost- effective way to heal arthritis. Heat therapy involves

  • Taking a warm shower or bath to ease morning stiffness.

  • Using a warm paraffin wax treatment system, available at many drugstores or beauty- supply stores, for sore hand or foot joints.

  • Soaking in a warm whirlpool.

  • Using a heating pad (protect skin with a cloth buffer) for up to 20 minutes at a time. Or buy an air-activated heat pack if you need one that’s portable.

  • Apply moist heat pads that can be availed at drugstores, or can be made by putting a wet washcloth in a freezer bag and heating it in a microwave. Wrap the hot pack in a towel and place it over the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Soothing stiff and painful hand joints by applying mineral oil to them, by putting on rubber dishwashing gloves and placing your hands in hot tap water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Heat therapy enhances blood circulation and delivers nutrients to joints and muscles, which leads to reduced swelling in the joints. It also numbs nerve- endings, dulling pain.

Tens Machine Therapy: Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS is a non- pharmaceutical treatment, that uses mild, safe electrical signals to the body’s nervous system that disrupts the pain signals at the spinal cord before they reach the brain. TENS is a pocket-sized device, powered by a battery. The strength of the signals can be adjusted and then placed on the skin.

TENS is an effective alternative therapy because it not only ceases pain but also helps the person who is suffering to reduce his/her reliance on drugs.

Arthritis Pain Relief Supplements: Research and clinical trials have proven that supplements are an excellent way to treat arthritis as an alternative to a typical surgery. Supplements such as Avocado-soybean Unsaponifiables (ASU), Cat’s Claw (Uncaria tomentosa), Fish Oil (Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA), Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Ginger (Zingiber officinale) have anti-inflammatory properties that convert chemicals in the body into enzymes called ‘resolvins’.

They also help in reducing joint tenderness and softness and regenerate normal connective tissue. The anti-inflammatory property prevents cartilage loss and also restores compounds that benefit the immune system. More such supplements are Boswellia Serrate (Indian frankincense), SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), Capsaicin (Capsicum frutescens), turmeric/ Curcumin (Curcuma longa), etc.

Note: Consult with your doctor before taking any pain relief supplements.

Acupuncture and Aroma Therapy: With various pressure points, acupuncture has gained mainstream acceptance in medicine as a considerable option to treat arthritis. Promising evidence suggests that acupuncture helps to restore balance in the body and removes pain or illness by channeling the qi in one’s body.

Aromatherapy: is also heavily in practice to treat arthritis. A potent supplement called Boswellia essential oil can be massaged regularly and the results it yields are comparable to NSAID pain relievers. Topical creams and gels are also made out of this oil that can be very relieving on the application.

Exercise, Massage, and Meditation: These three are a must for a person suffering from arthritis. They are best if all the three are in action, but they are equally effective individually also. Exercise is beneficial to strengthen muscles and joints, while meditation reduces stress in the body, and massages relieve pain and stiffness in the body.

Diet: Diet plays a very important role. Consuming foods that are rich in Omega- 3 like salmon, food that high in sulfur like garlic, bone broth for collagen, foods high in antioxidants, etc., will help reduce the risk of arthritis.

Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors deliver a gentle, non-invasive, non-addictive therapy, known as a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments reduce joint restrictions or misalignments in the spine and other joints in the body in an effort to reduce inflammation and improve the function of both the affected joint and nervous system. By increasing joint

mobility and improving your nervous system function and spinal health, your body has the ability to better manage symptoms caused by osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Conclusion

Arthritis has become a very well- researched topic in medicine, and there are multiple ways available to common man to treat and cure different types of arthritis. From reducing the risk in the initial stages to completely eliminating the issue, it is now possible to treat arthritis according to one’s condition, and surgery or alternative methods are all scientifically proven to be effective in treatment.

Hence, for any of the treatment of your choice, visit a doctor or a therapist, gather the information you need and understand the risks and benefits and choose the best option for you.