Dealing with arthritis is something more than 3.7 million Australians face every day, including many people from Seaford and Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
Arthritis is a general term for a number of related conditions producing pain and stiffness of the joints.
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
But there are many others including childhood arthritis, gout, fibromyalgia and lupus.
A 2022 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 14.5% of the nation suffered the condition.
For people aged 75 and above, that proportion rose to 48.9%.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of the disease caused by wear and tear to the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory autoimmune condition and one of the disease’s most painful forms.
It is a chronic condition which also impact other parts of the body including surrounding tissues and even organs.
The debilitative affects of the disease means that most people with rheumatoid arthritis suffer a loss in their quality of life including limitations of their physical function.
This in turn affects their emotional well-being.
There is no cure so dealing with arthritis becomes incredibly important.
That’s why early intervention is critical for the effective management of all types of the disease, leading to better long-term outcomes.
Signs and symptoms of arthritis
Joint pain – persistent pain in the joints is the most common symptom, presenting either with movement of the joints or at the end of the day.
Pain may be present in multiple joints at the same time.
Stiffness – this is the other most common symptom and is due to inflammation in the joints, typically the result of wear and tear.
Swelling or redness – these symptoms also indicate inflammation of the joint. Ignoring them may result in permanent damage to the joint.
Reduced range of motion – sufferers feel pain when they move a joint in a particular way.
By ignoring the problem and not moving the joint, the condition may be exacerbated. This can lead to a further reduced range of motion and increased pain and stiffness over time.
Fatigue – this can occur as a result of the body’s response to fighting chronic inflammation.
Feelings of weakness, drowsiness and fatigue are especially associated with rheumatoid arthritis.
Causes of arthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA) – the most common form of the disease is not believed to be inherited. But it is accepted there is a genetic component and higher risk of acquiring the disease within families.
It is caused by the deterioration of the quality and lubrication of joints as we age.
Disease often begins with the roughening of cartilage and may lead to the growth of tiny bone fragments in the joint. It may also see damage to the fluid-filled capsules surrounding the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – this is an auto-immune disease that is understood to be caused by a range of unknown genetic and environmental factors. It is not considered an inherited disorder.
It results in the immune system mistakenly attacking its own joints.
The disease can affect people of any age and can result in chronic inflammation and joint damage.
The inflammation that occurs can also affect other parts of the body including the skin, eyes, heart, lungs and blood vessels.
Infections and injuries – these play their part in the onset of the two most common types of arthritis, although to what extent cannot be quantified.
There are however many examples of joint injuries leading to the onset of osteoarthritis.
There are also fewer but a still significant number of examples of them triggering rheumatoid arthritis.
Treatment for arthritis
Early diagnosis is absolutely critical in dealing with arthritis and the successful management of all types of the disease.
It allows doctors to identify the specific type of arthritis present and formulate a plan of action to combat its effects.
This plan may include:
Pain management – various medications may be prescribed to combat arthritis pain.
Patients will also be encouraged to undertake physical therapy and make lifestyle modifications.
These may include maintaining a healthy weight and diet, undertaking regular exercise, avoiding stress and curtailing alcohol intake and smoking.
Inflammatory control – doctors may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help control inflammation and avoid joint damage.
These drugs also offer pain relief and may reduce fever but do come with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, gastrointestinal problems, kidney problems and allergic reactions.
Your doctor will talk to you about your personal risks and benefits of taking NSAIDs.
Joint protection – this involves basic principles to preserve the life of your joints.
Depending on the joints in question, these may include:
- using a relaxed hand grip
- avoiding repetitive activities
- learning new ways to move
- allowing bigger, healthier joints to carry the burden of weight or pressure
- avoiding staying in one position for long periods of time
- maintaining your muscle strength
- wearing braces to dissipate joint stress
Complementary therapies – these may include acupuncture, tai chi, hydrotherapy, occupational therapy or any other therapy which helps relieve the symptoms of the disease.
Book an appointment with a doctor in Seaford
Dealing with arthritis can seem overwhelming and an ominous battle.
But it is not one that needs to be faced alone.
Early diagnosis is pivotal to allow doctors to begin interventive measures to counter the effects of all forms of arthritis.
At AHA Clinics, experienced doctors will talk to you about the causes and symptoms of the disease and work with you to establish a management plan that helps to minimise its impact on your quality of life.
Our state-of-the-art facilities are equipped with the very latest medical instruments allowing doctors to provide patients with the highest standards of personalised care.
Book an appointment here today at either our Seaford Road Day and Night Clinic or our Seaford Meadows Day and Night Clinic.