Arthritis is a very common chronic disease affecting mostly the joints, skins and various internal organs. It has literal meaning of joint inflammation. It is one of the most prevalent diseases all over the world. In the United States it is foremost cause of disability. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three Americans is affected by one of the types of arthritis. There are over 100 types of arthritis, among them osteoarthritis is the most common, which affects the joints. It is most common in older people. Most of the arthritis causes swelling, redness, heat, and pain. The causes of arthritis depend on the form of arthritis.
There are various causes of arthritis, of which most of the causes are not known. Researches have revealed that genetic (hereditary) and lifestyle behavior might be responsible for the cause. Similarly there are various risk factors of arthritis such as; age, gender, obesity, work factors, etc. The risk of arthritis is believed to be developed with increase in age and frequency is more in women than in men. Some types of jobs and working styles can cause stress to the joints and thus likely to lead arthritis.
Symptoms in Arthritis:
The symptoms in arthritis may vary from one type to another and from person to person. However, some common symptoms can be outlined as followings:
Types of Arthritis:
- Pain of joints
- Inflammation of joints
- Joint Stiffness
- Tenderness of joints
- Feeling unwell
- Weight loss, fatigue & fever
There are various types of arthritis which have different causes. Some of the common types of arthritis are described as below:
Osteoarthrtis:It is a degenerative joint disease in which the cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joint deteriorates. It causes pain in the joints and loss of movement. It is the most prevalent form of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis: It is a chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints. It is characterized by disability, painful inflammation and loss of mobility due to pain and joint destruction.
Septic arthritis: It is the condition of proliferation of bacteria in joints and inflammation. Bacteria are carried by the bloodstream and get penetrated into the joints.
Gout: It is caused by the accumulation of uric acid crystals and when body cannot eliminate them. The excess uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints that cause swelling and severe pain. It is followed by severe pain and mostly affects only one joint. Gout affects mostly men. It affects mostly the big toe, knee and wrist joints.
Ankylosing spondylitis: It is a chronic, painful, and inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and sacroiliac joints. It results in fusion of spine and complete rigidity of the spine.
Juvenile arthritis: It is a general term of arthritis which occurs in children.
The treatment approaches aim to relieve pain, inflammation associated with arthritis and to speed down or stop joint damage. Similarly some of the approaches increase person’s sense of well being and ability to function. The medications are meant to reduce the arthritis pain and inflammation.
For many years, the pain and inflammation of arthritis have been treated with medications but never happened to see the pain go away completely or for very long. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen are used to reduce the pain. Similarly, corticosteroids such as prednisolone, cortisone, and hydrocortisone are also used. They are found to be decreasing he inflammation associated with arthritis, but still have common side effects like stomach irritation (due to NSAIDs).
Today many people look onto the alternative remedies for the relief for chronic pain of arthritis. In addition, physical therapy and occupational therapy to maintain joint mobility and range of motion can be helpful. Here are some examples of effective and helpful alternative therapy for the arthritis.
Herbal medicines, various types of massage and aromatherapy are best practiced natural remedies in arthritis. Some popular names of herbal plants that are found to be useful in the treatment of arthritis are;
Ginseng Liquor (Panax quinquefolius), Ginger (Zingiber officinale), Alfalfa (Medicago saliva), Licorice, Angelica (Angelica archangelica), Boswellia, Celery (Apium graveolens), Chaparral (Larrea tridentata), Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa), Hop Tea (Humulus lupulus), Mustard Plaster (Brassica alba, Brassica juncea), Oregano (Origanum vulgare), Red pepper, Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Cayenne pepper (Capsicum spp.), Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis), Sesame Seeds (Sesamum indicum), Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa), etc.
Aromatherapy consists of mixture of pure essential oils and is generally regarded as very effective and safe in arthritis.
alternative ways may include yoga, relaxation therapy and lifestyle modification. Life style modification indicates loosing weight, eating balanced and nutritional diet, establishing regular exercise, reducing or removing stress.
Massage is another popular therapy used to relieve muscle tensions, spasms, inflammation, pain, stiffness and fluid retention. According to the research studies of Prof Ray Altman at University of Miami, ginger extract has been found to be potential to relieve pain for the patient with osteoarthritis of the knee. He has believed that ginger might be useful in reducing pain caused by osteoarthritis.
Nutritional supplements such as ‘Glucosamine’, ‘Chondroitin’ and ‘Fish Oil’ have been reported to be effective in arthritis. These new dietary supplements (glucosamine and chondroitin) have shown at least effective as ibuprofen (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) and are found to be safe.
- Ray Altman. Ginger may be useful in treating Oesteoarthritis Pain. Arthritis & Rheumatism. Nov 2001.
- NHS Direct Online Health Encyclopaedia (http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles)
- John J.Regan, Walsh M.C. Arthritis: Alternative Treatments. Beverly Hills, CA, USA. 2002.
- http://www.webmd.com/solutions/hs/ arthritis/acupuncture
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A (http://www.cdc.gov/)
- Carol Rados. Helpful Treatments Keep People with Arthritis Moving. U.S. FDA Consumer Magazine.2005.
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). Handout on Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis. 1998.
- Arthritis Foundation. The Facts about Arthritis. (http://www.arthritis.org)