Arthritis (joint swelling) can be of many types. The most common type is osteoarthritis which is seen in most cases. While some cases fall into the category of inflammatory arthritis, the category of inflammatory arthritis, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, gout etc Osteoarthritis is primarily due to wear and tear of the cartilage. Inflammatory arthritis is due to the production of certain substances in the join that directly damage the cartilage.The basic problem with all forms of arthritis is the resultant cartilage destruction. A cartilage is the cushion of the joint and in its absence the joint becomes rough, painful and deformed. Irrespective of the cause or type of arthritis, the final result in all these is end-stage arthritis in which the cartilage is completely lost and surgeries are the only remedy.
Studies have shown that osteoarthritis is now starting at an earlier age and younger people are presenting with end-stage disease. Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age.
It is felt that genetic and environmental factors cause this illness. Changing urban lifestyles, sedentary living, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking and increasing pollution are some of the reasons.
Due to the genetic element, it is not possible to totally prevent arthritis but you can delay the onset and reduce its intensity. A healthy, well-balanced diet, regular stretching and strengthening exercise, weight control and avoiding smoking are some measures to delay the onset of osteoarthritis. As regards rheumatoid arthritis, it is very important that we treat it aggressively with medicines early on. With early diagnosis and long-term medical management of rheumatoid, surgeries can be avoided.
In the early stages, the symptoms and progression of arthritis can be controlled with medication, physiotherapy, low-impact exercise, stretching, diet control, weight reduction, and activity modification. In end-stage arthritis, the treatment is the same irrespective of the cause. The affected joint has to be reconstructed with joint replacement and resurfacing surgery.
Source: TIMES Life India