Understanding Arthritis: Symptoms, Causes, and Management

Arthritis affects millions of people worldwide of all ages and usually affects the joints. The word arthritis actually comes from two Greek words: arthro and it isArthro means joint and itis means inflammation.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is not a single disease or condition but rather a term used to describe joint inflammation. It encompasses over 100 different types of joint diseases and conditions, the most common of which are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These conditions can be very painful and cause swelling, stiffness, and decreased mobility in the affected joints.

Symptoms of Arthritis:

The symptoms of arthritis can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. However, some common symptoms include:

  1. Joint pain: Persistent pain in one or more joints is a hallmark symptom of arthritis. The pain may be mild to severe and can worsen with movement.
  2. Joint stiffness: Arthritis often causes stiffness, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity. This stiffness may improve with movement throughout the day.
  3. Swelling: Inflammation of the joints can lead to swelling, tenderness, and warmth around the affected area.
  4. Reduced range of motion: Arthritis can limit the movement of affected joints, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
  5. Fatigue: Chronic pain and inflammation associated with arthritis can cause fatigue and exhaustion.

Causes of Arthritis:

The exact cause of arthritis varies depending on the type of arthritis that has been diagnosed. Some common factors that may contribute to the development of arthritis include:

  1. Genetics: Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, have a genetic component, meaning they run in families.
  2. Age: The risk of developing arthritis increases with age, especially osteoarthritis, which is often associated with wear and tear on the joints over time.
  3. Injury: Joint injuries or trauma can increase the risk of developing arthritis later in life.
  4. Autoimmune disorders: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues, leading to joint inflammation.
  5. Lifestyle factors: Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and poor posture can contribute to the development and progression of arthritis.

Management and Treatment:

While there is no cure for arthritis, various treatment options can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Some common management strategies include:

  1. Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are often prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation.
  2. Physical therapy: Exercises and stretches designed to improve joint flexibility, strength, and range of motion can help alleviate arthritis symptoms.
  3. Lifestyle modifications: Maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and avoiding activities that exacerbate joint pain can help manage arthritis symptoms.
  4. Assistive devices: The use of assistive devices such as braces, splints, and orthopedic shoes can provide support and relieve pressure on affected joints.
  5. Alternative therapies: Some people find relief from joint pain and inflammation through acupuncture, massage therapy, and dietary supplements – for example Revive Active Joint Complex, Cleanmarine Magnesium or Meda Vitamin D3 2000iu.

Before starting any new medication or supplement it is important to discuss this with a healthcare professional. They can advise if it will cause side effects, interact with any other medication you may be taking or not suitable (for example, some supplements are not suitable if you are pregnancy or breastfeeding).

If you are experiencing joint pain or have been diagnosed with arthritis speak with your GP and don’t hesitate to call into your local Adrian Dunne Pharmacy and ask one of our pharmacists for advice to help manage your symptoms. Find your local Adrian Dunne Pharmacy here.

For further information about arthritis, you can also visit Arthritis Ireland’s website at www.arthritisireland.ie.