Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints and surrounding tissues to cause pain, stiffness and inflammation. There are over 100 different arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions that affect bones, muscles and joints. There are three main factors which affect your risk of arthritis – genetics, what happens during your life and how you live. The importance varies for each type of arthritis. In general as we age, our risk increases but anyone can get arthritis and some forms such as juvenile arthritis can attack young people.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, where the cartilage breaks down and the bones rub together causing pain and stiffness in the joint. The joint can also lose its shape and alignment. The second most common is rheumatoid arthritis which is an inflammation and thickening of the membranes in joints causing the whole joint to look and feel swollen. The body's immune system then goes on to attack the bone and cartilage. Other forms of arthritis include juvenile, gout, psoriatic and ankylosing arthritis. As there are so many different types, it is important that you seek a diagnosis if you suspect you have the condition. A correct diagnosis can ensure you get the most appropriate care.
In osteoarthritis, the joints most commonly affected are the knees which are sometimes due to an old injury, the hips where the older people are most at risk, the hands usually at the end finger joints, and the spine in the neck or lower back. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, but the condition can be managed by such practices as exercise, weight loss, medications or surgery if necessary.
Most often, Osteoarthritis can be successfully managed by keeping the joint mobile. Exercising an osteoarthritic joint is important to maximise the health of the cartilage, maintain joint movement and improve muscle strength. Cartilage does not have a blood supply, so it relies on the synovial fluid moving in and out of the joint to nourish it and remove its wastes. Exercises that involve moving the joints through their range of movement will also help maintain flexibility that is otherwise lost as a result of the arthritis. Pain associated with arthritis has a weakening effect on the surrounding muscles. However, by undertaking strengthening exercises, muscle weakness can be reversed. Strong muscles will support sore joints. Swimming is a particularly good exercise for preventing arthritis as the buoyancy from the water reduces the wear and tear on joints that are already painful.
Other techniques that can help manage osteoarthritis include controlling weight in those that are overweight and have osteoarthritis in the weight-bearing joints. Products that can help in weight loss can be found here. Pain relieving and anti-inflammatory medications can also help manage the condition. This can include herbal medications such as Caruso’s Arthritis Fighter and Mobicosa Capsules. It may also include creams such as Oz Health Arthritis Relief and Brauer Arthritis Relief Cream. In some cases surgery may be required and you can seek advice from a doctor to help manage your condition.