Arthritis pain and the options for relieving pain can be very frustrating. According to Gene Hunder, M.D., rheumatology specialist at Mayo Clinic, if joint damage is already evident, the arthritis pain worsens with stressful or repetitive activities to the joints affected. However, if mild joint pain exists a gentle exercise program may be beneficial.
Ankylosing Spondylitis - This arthritis affects the spine, hips, heart, lungs and heels, which is chronic, painful and progressive. Ankylosing spondylitis can eventually cause fusion of the spine in those of genetic predisposition. Typical symptoms affect males between the ages of 15-30 consisting of chronic pain and stiffness in the lower back and fatigue. Children as young as three may experience knee pain often misinterpreted as rheumatisms. Generally, X-ray tests will show indications of any spinal changes and sacroilitiis characteristic to ankylosing spondylitis. Ankylosing spondylitis is classified as a systematic rheumatic autoimmune disease, with no known cure available. However, medication, physical therapy and exercise are available to reduce pain, inflammation and symptoms.
Juvenile Arthritis - This arthritis affects children between the ages of 6 months to 16 years. Many of the symptoms are the same as rheumatoid arthritis (see below) and usually the child outgrows juvenile rheumatoid arthritis before reaching adulthood. Medications are available to improve symptoms, which might include a variable fever.
Osteoarthritis - Degenerative arthritis, another name for osteoarthritis affects the joints. The wearing of the cartilage, which acts as a cushion for the joints, causes inflammation and pain. Because the bone surfaces have less protection from the cartilage, walking and standing, or any other weight bearing activity creates pain, but little if any inflammation. Currently this arthritis affects 21 million people within the United States. Because it is, so far anyway, impossible to replace cartilage, there is no cure for Osteoarthritis. The type of pain usually associated with osteoarthritis is described as a sharp ache, or burning sensation in the muscles and tendons associated with the bone. Occasionally when the joint moves or is touched, it will make a crackling noise. Other symptoms noted include muscle spasms, tendon contractions and fluid in the joint. Areas affected by Osteoarthritis are hands, feet, spine, hips, knees and in theory any joint in the body. When knees are affected, they tend to curve outward and usually feel worse the more they are used during the day. This separates osteoarthritis apart from rheumatoid arthritis. On fingers nodes form, but usually are not painful. Bunion formation that may become red or swollen is a common form on the toes. There are two causes of osteoarthritis; Primary, caused by aging where the water content of the cartilage increases and loss of protein composition; Secondary, other diseases or conditions including, but not limited to, obesity, repeated trauma, hormonal disorders, surgery and inflammatory diseases. Because 60% of the population has family members affected by osteoarthritis, this indicates a hereditary condition. X-rays and MRIs, in addition to a physical examination, are the most common techniques used to diagnose osteoarthritis. No matter how severe the osteoarthritis condition, weight control, appropriate rest and exercise and support devices, if necessary are the most beneficial treatments. To relieve pain associated with exercise, apply heat before and cold after for 10-20 minutes each, along with mild pain relievers, if necessary. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove fragments, reposition bones, or bone fusion, which will increase stability.
Rheumatoid Arthritis - This chronic, inflammatory autoimmune disorder allows the immune system to attacks joints, which is both painful and destructive and may create loss of mobility. Rheumatoid arthritis differs from other forms of arthritis because it attacks the soft-tissue of many joints at the same time and stiffness and pain are worse in the morning, improving with use. Rheumatoid arthritis may lead to joint deformity should joint surfaces erode or become destroyed, such as fingers and assume unnatural shapes. This disorder is more common among women and is genetic. Common symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis are morning stiffness, soft-tissue swelling in three or more joints, arthritis of hand joints, symmetric arthritis, subcutaneous nodules in specific places, radiological changes that suggest joint changes. Blood tests are used to determine if a patient suffers from Rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists do not know what causes rheumatoid arthritis, but suspicions lead to an offending organism causes an immune response that leaves behind antibodies specific to that organism. Though this disease is progressive, regular diet and exercise can ease the symptoms of pain and stiffness associated.
Arthritis dates back as far a 4500 BC when the remains of Indians were found in Tennessee. The first text written is dated 123 AD noting symptoms similar to rheumatoid arthritis.