Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS
Arthritis
Overview
Symptoms
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Home Remedies
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common name: Rayuma (Tag.)

Arthritis generally refers to any disease - that causes pain, inflammation, and damage to the joints and connective tissues. Arthritic joints can cause chronic pain or permanent disability.

FORMS OF ARTHRITIS

  • Gout - joints are painful and inflamed due to uric acid crystal deposits in the joints.
  • Osteoarthritis - characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage and adjacent bone in the neck, lower back, knees, hips, and/or fingers. The disease is also known as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis - chronic, autoimmune disease, is the most crippling form of arthritis. This chronic disease is characterized by painful and stiff joints on both sides of the body that may become enlarged and deformed.
  • Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) - type of arthritis that affects the spine. The disease causes inflammation of the spine and large joints, resulting in stiffness and pain.
  • Fibromyalgia - not truly a form of arthritis; it is a chronic, widespread pain in muscles and soft tissues surrounding the joints throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue.
  • Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis(JRA) - usually occurs in ages 15 and younger; causes inflammation and stiffness of joints for more than six weeks. The disease can affect bone development.
Symptoms
  • Joint pain, tenderness, swelling, redness or warmth.
  • Early morning stiffness
  • Reduced ability to move the joint.
  • Unexplained weight loss, fever, or weakness associated with joint pains.
Risk Factors
  • Age. With the exception of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, symptoms often begin after age 40.
  • Gender. Women are at higher risk. Rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and fibromyalgia occur more often in women.
  • Weight. In weight-bearing joints like the knees, extra weight exerts more pressure on joints and causes the cushioning layer between bones in a joint (cartilage) to break down.
  • Past injuries. A severe joint injury, such as a knee injury that damages cartilage, can add to the overall risk of arthritis.
  • Ethnicity. In the US, more Caucasians have rheumatoid arthritis than Asians and African Americans.
  • Family History
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) - the cornerstone of drug therapy for all types of arthritis by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins. Nausea, abdominal pain, stomatitis are common side effects experienced with NSAID use.
  • Corticosteroids - for severe cases of pain and inflammation. GI bleeding, hypertension, increased risk of infections are some side effects associated with steroid use. Oral contraceptives increase the effects of corticosteroids while antibiotics (macrolides, azole anti-fungals) may inhibit their metabolism.
  • DMARDs (Disease-Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs) slow down the biological processes that are the driving force behind persistent inflammation. Frequent laboratory monitoring helps control the risk of side effects. Gold compounds, hydroxychloroquine, methotrexate, azathioprine and penicillamine are the most commonly prescribed DMARDs.
  • Biologic response modifiers

Precautions when taking NSAIDs:

  • Patients with history of GI disease, reduced renal function, in geriatric patients, in patients on anticoagulant therapy, in compromised cardiac function, in hypertension, in conditions predisposing to fluid retention and in the presence of existing controlled infection.
  • Avoid in asthmatics who are sensitive to aspirin because they may trigger bronchospasm and respiratory failure.
  • Avoid alcohol, excessive amounts of vitamin C, or salicylate-containing foods (e.g., curry powder, prunes, raisins, tea, or licorice), other prescription or OTC medications containing aspirin or salicylate, or other NSAIDs without consulting prescriber.
  • Regular NSAID use may hamper aspirin prevention of first heart attacks.
  • Use in pregnancy increases risk of pulmonary hypertension in newborns.
  • Risk of stomach bleeding in those who consume 3 or more alcoholic drinks a day.
Treatment and Management
  • Maintain ideal body weight. Proper weight control reduces the risks for developing arthritis especially in the weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips.

  • Protect joints from trauma. Joint injuries caused by accidents, injuries, or overuse can increase the risk for arthritis in the future. Prevent injuries when engaging in sports or other activities by wearing proper equipment and adequate training.
Home Remedies
  • Place warm heating pad on affected and/or painful area for 15 minutes to relieve pain.
  • For severe pain, apply a cold pack to relieve stiffness and ease the pain.
  • Stretch and exercise gently the affected joint to regain strength and mobility. However, do not exercise joint if swollen or inflamed. For more information, try www.arthritis.org/exercise-intro.php.
  • Physiotherapy helps strengthen weak muscles.
  • Canes, crutches, walkers, or splints may help relieve the stress and strain on arthritic joints.
  • Bromelain, found in pineapples decreases pain and swelling and improves mobility. Ginger decreases joint pains and reduces inflammation. Curcumin, the active ingredient found in turmeric, relieves pain, stiffness and inflammation.
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