Are you too lazy to get up from one position or is it a fear of pains in your joints that makes you inactive? Is it a general pain due to lack of rest or a regular occurrence when you shift your position? Do you suffer from morning stiffness? All these signs are indicative of Arthritis, a medical condition in which the joints pain with visible swelling, redness, and stiffness. People with joint and back pain, especially if associated with swelling and stiffness in morning or after a period of rest, are at a risk of Arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis in India, affecting over 15 million adults every year. In the last few decades, Indians in the age-group of 30 to 50 years are increasingly falling prey to osteoarthritis and it continues to have a serious impact on the lives of elderly people as well. Women and people facing weight issues are also susceptible. If ignored for long, Arthritis of any kind can cause serious deformities in your body.
What causes Arthritis?
There are multiple types of Arthritis and the causes of each can differ. Some of the types are auto-immune i.e. the body’s own immune system attacks the cartilages and the bones. Rheumatoid Arthritis is caused due to physiological changes whereas Osteoarthritis is caused when there is a structural change in the body. Arthritis can even be genetically passed from one to another generation.
What symptoms to see?
All types of arthritis will show a maximum of the following symptoms:
Decreased range of motion
Redness of the skin around the joint
Loss of appetite
Many joints affected (Polyarthritis)
Loss of range of motion
Both sides of the body affected (symmetric)
What kind of pain is felt?
Is Pain a pain? No, not in the case of arthritis! The pain felt in any kind of arthritis is very different to the other pains. Here the pain is felt in the joints that are not used frequently or if the joints are overused. The pain is felt deep in the joints with redness and swelling. It worsens in the morning and gets better during the day. This pain gets aggravated when you change your position i.e. from sitting to standing or from lying to sitting or vice-versa.
How to find out if you have arthritis?
In most cases, the discomfort and recurrence of your pain will make you visit the doctor. The medical practitioner will assess the history of your pain and evaluate your small and big joints and their range of motion. The two classical type of arthritis is osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is generally seen in the big weight bearing joints and rheumatoid in the small joints. For further analysis, your doctor will ask you to get RA factor evaluated. In most cases, RA will show elevated levels, but in a few, it will not be high enough to change the value. For this, a comprehensive test is required. This blood test evaluates the presence of inflammation in your body and Serum Phosphorous levels that can be altered because of Vitamin D deficiency. Results of these tests should be supported by X-ray screening.
When should you see a doctor?
Arthritis is a disorder which leaves permanent deformities. So, if you have multiple joint pains for more than 3-4 days or multiple times in a month, along with stiffness, swelling, and inability to move, then you should urgently go and see the doctor. Ideally, you should visit a rheumatologist, who specialize in arthritis or you can visit an orthopedic or any general practitioner who knows your medical history. If your doctor recommends any test for screening of arthritis, changes in lifestyle and diet; make sure to follow his advice.
Explaining your pain to the doctor
The most common problem seen when assessing Arthritis is how you describe your pain to the doctor. Mostly people get confused while explaining the type of pain, frequency and duration of pain. If you have regular pain then try to maintain a diary measuring the intensity of your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, the duration of pain i.e. the time in minutes or hours, the position in which you feel relief and the positions which aggravate the pain. The type of pain can be categorized as throbbing, aching, grinding, grating or dull.
The way ahead
If you are diagnosed with arthritis then you should focus on altering your lifestyle. Arthritis is a permanent disease in which only lifestyle management is the best treatment. You have to include a lot of physical activity which shall keep your small and big joints mobile within limits and reduce chances of stiffness. The doctor shall give you painkillers and non-steroidal medicines to control inflammation. For a long-term effect, consult a physical therapist for guidance on movements and exercises will help you and not damage your joints. The more religiously you follow them, the better are your chances of living a healthier and smoother. In worst cases, doctors may recommend a joint replacement for big joints.
Where to begin?
If you have been suffering from joint pains regularly, book our arthritis test and get doctor and dietitian consultation for free. Take a test, know your true picture and stay moving!!