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Arthritis


Arthritis is not a single disease, but a term that covers over 90 different health conditions. The most common of these is osteoarthritis, which generally affects older people. Other forms of arthritis affect people at a very early age. The term arthritis really is very general. To better understand these different arthritic diseases and why they cause pain, it’s important to know how our joints work.

Cartilage is a firm connective tissue that covers the surface where two bones meet. This is important both to keep the bones connected and to keep the bones from rubbing directly against each other. A healthy covering of cartilage allows the joint to work smoothly and painlessly. Ligaments hold the two bones of a joint together. Ligaments are like elastic bands, keeping the bones in place while the muscles relax or contract to make the joint move. All of these parts are engulfed in a capsule. There’s also a space within the joint–a joint cavity. This cavity contains synovial fluid, which nourishes the joint and the cartilage. Synovial fluid is produced by the synovium which lines the joint cavity.

If we have arthritis it means something is wrong with our joint(s). What exactly is going wrong depends on the type of arthritis one has. It could be that the cartilage is wearing away, a lack of synovial fluid, autoimmunity (the body attacking itself), infection or a combination of these things. Most arthritis types are caused by a combination of factors.

Inflammation, pain and discomfort are present in arthritis. Some cases can be very severe, even involving bone deformation as the root cause. A lot of the time, the root cause is high levels of stress which affect immune response and reparation.  Overweightness also affects joints, creating inflammation and wearing away at the cartilage and synovial fluid. Without healthy cartilage to come between bones, they scrape against one another and create constant inflammation. If this persists, autoimmune diseases become present. Immune cells start attacking areas of inflammation, increasing the problem and creating more physical and emotional stress. For problems like this it is important to deal with stress and get proper nutrition and physical activity. Phytotherapi has a solution to help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation and stress, improve sleep and boost immune response through reflex cycle.

A short list of some factors that can increase the odds of getting an arthritic disease include:

  1. A physically demanding job, especially one that requires a lot of movement.

  2. A previous injury

  3. (Sometimes) infections or allergic reactions can cause short-term arthritis.

  4. For some people certain foods can either bring arthritic symptoms or make existing ones worse

  5. Being overweight/obesity

  6. Autoimmune disease.

The following are common types of arthritis:

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is where the cartilage loses elasticity. If cartilage stiffens, it gets damaged more easily. Cartilage normally acts as a shock absorber for the joints. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage gradually wears away in some areas. As it becomes damaged, tendons and ligaments become stretched. This is what causes the pain. Eventually, the bones may start to rub against one other. This brings with it a very severe pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is an inflammatory type of arthritis where the synovium is attacked by the immune cells. Swelling and pain follow. If left untreated this kind of arthritis can lead to deformity. It is significantly more common in women and generally strikes between the ages of 40 and 60. However, people outside this age range can also be affected. Patients have a higher risk of blood clot during the first ten years of diagnosis.

Infectious arthritis (septic arthritic)

This is an infection of the synovial fluid and joint tissue. Infectious arthritis is normally caused by bacteria, but can also be caused by fungi and viruses. The pathogen may spread through the bloodstream from nearby infected tissue and infect a joint. The people most susceptible to this are those who already have some type of arthritis and develop an infection traveling through the bloodstream.

Arthritis affects people in different ways. How long the patient is affected and how severe it is depends on the type of arthritis. If suffering from arthritis you will find that there are good and bad days. Common symptoms for those with arthritis include joint discomfort/pain, stiffness and/or feeling tired often. Apart from the obvious physical aspects, feelings of frustration may occur. One important thing to know if suffering from arthritis is that there is no need to give up an active lifestyle. With a few lifestyle changes, there is no reason to not continue being active.

Physical and occupational therapy are available to help maintain joint mobility and range of motion. How much therapy one will need and the type of therapy will need depends on several factors such as age, severity of the arthritis, type of arthritis and general state of health. This has to be decided by a physician and physical or occupational therapist. People with arthritis will often avoid moving the affected joint because of the pain. A physical therapist can help the patient work out the stiffness without damaging it. This helps achieve good range of motion to get daily activity. This therapy may involve building strength in the muscles surrounding the affected joint. Stronger muscles help stabilize the weakened joint. You will also be taught how to best move from one position to another and how to use walking aids such as crutches, a cane or a walker if needed.

Physical therapy, apart from significantly improving function and reducing pain, has been shown to delay the need for surgical intervention in advanced cases. Physical activity actually helps rather than hinder. As a warning- Being inactivity can harm the health of most patients with arthritis or other rheumatic disease. Inactivity also raises the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Muscles become weaker without exercise, joints become stiffer and pain tolerance decreases. Balance problems may also become worse. So whatever happens, find ways to keep an active lifestyle.

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