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What is arthritis and how to identify it?

Arthritis is a very common and poorly understood disease. To begin, it should be clarified that arthritis is not a disease in itself, but rather an informal way of referring to pain caused in the joints. There are various types of arthritis. If you or someone close to you suffers from arthritis, it is important to know the condition. The more information there is about it, its progress, treatment alternatives, products and services, the quality of life can remain stable.
Arthritis is a disorder of the joints that present stiffness and inflammation. A joint is an area of ​​the body where two different bones meet. Its function is to facilitate the movement of body parts connected by bones. Arthritis literally means: inflammation of one or more joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system, which normally protects the body by fighting bacteria and viruses, mistakenly attacks the joints. This causes inflammation that causes the tissue that lines the inside of the joints (synovial membrane) to thicken, causing pain in and around the joints. The membrane

Classified as a rheumatoid disease, arthritis makes up a group of conditions. Rheumatoid factors are proteins produced by the immune system which can attack healthy tissue in the body. High level of rheumatoid factor is associated with autoimmune diseases. It is especially relevant that there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions, the most common being osteoarthritis. These conditions are characterized by pain, stiffness and inflammation around one or more joints.

In Mexico, three out of four patients with rheumatoid arthritis are women and 75% of them are of productive age.

Rheumatic diseases affect joints, muscles, ligaments, cartilage, tendons and other areas of the body. Some of the most common rheumatic diseases include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lupus
  • Drop
  • Fibromyalgia

The causes of arthritis are directly related to its type. However, some of these are caused by injuries, abnormalities metabolic, hereditary factors, infections bacteriological or viral, as well as immune system disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

Types of Arthritis

Inflammatory Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an example of an inflammatory nature. Researchers believe that a combination of factors genetic and the environment can trigger this autoimmunity. Smoking is a good example of an environmental risk factor that can cause the onset of inflammatory arthritis.

In this type of arthritis, timely diagnosis and treatment are critical for the patient's health. The goal of treatment in inflammatory arthritis is to reduce pain, improve mobility and therefore prevent future joint damage.

Infectious Arthritis

It corresponds to joint inflammation caused by bacteria, a virus or fungus.

Examples of organisms that can affect the joints and cause infectious arthritis include:

  • Salmonella and shigella. Both bacteria attack animals and humans, and are spread mainly through food contamination or fecal-oral contamination.
  • Chlamydia and gonorrhea. They are bacteria that cause sexually transmitted diseases
  • Hepatitis C. Blood infection caused by a virus that attacks the liver

In many cases, timely use of antibiotics can eliminate the infection in the joints. While sometimes, this disease becomes chronic.

Metabolic Arthritis

Some people have very high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce it in greater quantities or because their body cannot eliminate it. In these types of people, uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joints. This causes extreme joint pain known as a gout attack.

Gout episodes may come and go. However, if uric acid levels are not reduced, it can become a chronic condition causing ongoing pain and disability.

Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis corresponds to the group of conditions that are characterized by damage to the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones. Cartilage's main job is to make joints slide and move smoothly.

This type of arthritis causes the cartilage to become thin and rough. As a result, the body compensates for the loss of cartilage by reconfiguring the bone to reduce the lost stability. This causes unwanted bone growths (osteophytes) to form or the joint to become deformed, leading to osteoarthritis. However, osteoarthritis can also result from previous injuries to the joint such as a fracture. or previous inflammation of the joint.

Arthritis symptoms

The main symptoms of arthritis include pain, inflammation, and limited joint function. Difficulty moving the joint, bone growth, and loss of the ability to grasp objects well with the hands are also symptoms of this disease. Characteristic symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain : This may be constant or may come and go. In the same way, it can be located in a single point or be present in various parts of the body.
  • Swelling : Some types of arthritis cause redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected joint area.
  • Stiffness : is a characteristic symptom of this condition that frequently increases during the morning, upon waking, after sitting for a while or after sleep. exercise.
  • Difficulty moving : Moving or getting up from a chair should not be painful or difficult. If it is, this may be an indicator of arthritis or a joint problem.

Arthritis diagnosis

Diagnosis begins with a physical evaluation that involves examining the joints for inflammation or deformity. This evaluation may be accompanied by blood test, urine, joint fluid and x-rays. Several visits to the doctor may be necessary before certainty of the diagnosis can be reached.

Accurate and timely diagnosis can help prevent irreversible damage. You should see a rheumatologist if the diagnosis is uncertain or if it is inflammatory arthritis. The specialist will be able to specify the diagnosis and define the most effective treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout or another type of arthritis.

Arthritis treatment

There are many things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility, and quality of life. Learning about the disease and its treatment alternatives is the first step. Physical activity and maintaining an adequate weight is essential for the treatment of arthritis.

The specific treatment of arthritis follows directly from the precise diagnosis of the type of arthritis suffered. Therefore, an accurate and timely diagnosis increases the potential success of treatment. Physical therapy is one of the most common treatments for arthritis. You can also use splints, paraffin ointments, anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive medications, and surgery. (joint replacement).

Non-inflammatory types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis, are often treated with medications to reduce pain, physical activity, weight loss if the person is overweight, and self-management education. A variety of medications and lifestyle strategies can help minimize pain. Additionally, joints can be prevented from further damage. The medications that are prescribed will depend on the type of arthritis.

Treatment for arthritis aims to control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain function and quality of life.

Arthritis Facts

  • It is a disease that attacks all races, genders and ages.
  • In Mexico more than a million people have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • In the United States, one in five people over the age of 18 has been diagnosed with some type of arthritis.
  • Two-thirds of people who suffer from arthritis are under 65 years of age.
  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is diagnosed in children as young as one year old.
  • Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.
  • In the American Union, 31% of overweight people have a diagnosis of osteoarthritis.

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