United States of America has an aging population. An aging population along with the prevalence of risk factors (e.g., obesity) are common causes of Arthritis. Arthritis is highly prevalent and is the leading cause of disability amongst older adults in the United States.
Arthritis and other rheumatic conditions include more than 100 different diseases that affect the joints and surrounding connective tissues for example, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. They all have different causes and treatment methods. Short-term effects of arthritis include, pain, aching, swelling and stiffness in and around a joint. The long-term effects of arthritis include worsening of joint symptoms, joint deformity, and disability.
The symptoms of arthritis usually develop over time, but they may also appear suddenly. Arthritis is most commonly seen in adults over the age of 65, but it can also develop in children, teens, and younger adults. Arthritis is more common in women than men and in people who are overweight.
Two of the most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):
It’s an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. Autoimmune disease means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. This causes painful swelling also known as inflammation in the affected areas of your body.
Rheumatoid arthritis mainly attacks the joints. It may attack several joints simultaneously. Commonly affected joints by RA are the joints in wrists, knees and hands. After being attacked by RA the lining of the joint becomes inflamed which causes damage to joint tissue. This tissue damage can cause chronic pain, unsteadiness and even deformity. RA may also cause issues in other body tissues throughout the body for instance lungs, heart and eyes.
Risk factors of RA include age, gender, genetics, smoking and obesity among others. Age, smoking and obesity are directly related risk factors to rheumatoid arthritis. RA is two-to-three times more likely to affect women than men.
Similarly, people born with specific genes are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis. These genes are call human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class II genotypes. They can also make the arthritis worse. If these people start smoking or become obese the risk of rheumatoid arthritis increases sharply according to studies.
Studies also suggest that women who have breastfed their kids have a decreased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not only a disease of joints but it can also affect your other vital organs. People with rheumatoid arthritis are at a high risk for developing other chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Thanks to advances in modern medicine rheumatoid arthritis can be effectively treated and managed. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) is used for rheumatoid arthritis. They slow the progression of disease and prevent joint deformity. As a second-line treatment biological response modifiers or biologicals are used.
It’s also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. It is the most common form of arthritis. It’s a degenerative joint disease. The main reason for osteoarthritis is the break down of cartilage (a thin coating on joints to reduce friction). When the cartilage breaks down the underlying bone begins to change. Osteoarthritis progresses slowly and get worse over time. In USA 32.5 million people suffer from the effects of osteoarthritis.
Short-term effects of osteoarthritis include, pain, aching, swelling and stiffness in and around a joint. The long-term effects of osteoarthritis encompass worsening of joint symptoms, joint deformity, and disability. The worst-case scenarios leave people unable to do their daily tasks or work.
The risk factors of osteoarthritis include; joint injury, overuse, age, gender, obesity, genetics and race. Joint injury, overuse, age and obesity have a direct relation with osteoarthritis. If we look at the gender then women are way more likely to get affected by osteoarthritis than men.
Osteoarthritis is more common in some races and less in others. For example, some Asian populations have lower risk of osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is an incurable disease. There are however some therapies available to treat osteoarthritis.
Following are some of the self-management strategies that can be adopted:
- Physical activity decreases pain, improves function and even delays disability. However, overactivity can have detrimental effects. That’s why it is recommended for adults to do a moderate physical activity every week for at least 150 minutes.
- Controlling your weight is another effective way of managing arthritis. According to research maintaining a healthy weight can limit arthritis progression. Losing one-pound weight reduces the load on a knee joint by 4 pounds. For overweight adults even a modest weight loss can have a huge positive impact.
- Avoid injuries if you can, particularly joint injuries. Repeated knee bending can also become the cause of osteoarthritis.
- Older adults who start feeling joint pains must immediately consult with a doctor. As always early diagnosis and professionally guided management is critical to maintaining a good quality of life. Your doctor may prescribe you an essential disease modifying drug or suggest a therapy.
Rheumatoid arthritis patients need to be extra careful during this pandemic. COVID-19 affects people who are immunocompromised. Many rheumatoid arthritis patients are on medications that suppress the immune system. It makes them more vulnerable to infection. Although, it is not yet confirmed to what extent they are affected but it is always better to be safe than sorry. For older patients with arthritis extreme caution is advised.
If you have any issues relating to your joints and you are unable to carry out your daily tasks Kandakacare, is here to help you. We can cater to all your needs. Our healthcare professionals can take good care of you even in this time of crisis without compromising your health. We also offer services like running errands for you so that you won’t have to go through any pain to get your daily tasks done.
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