Arthritis: Meaning, Diagnosis and Overview

What is Arthritis?

ARTHRITIS is a chronic condition of inflammation of the joints. Joints are places where two bones meet such as elbow joint, knee joint etc. It is the main cause of disability among people over fifty-five years of age. There are many types of arthritis like osteo arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis etc.

Arthritis pain

Recovery Time

Recovery from arthritis depends on the type of arthritis. Generally it ranges from few months to years. There is no cure for arthritis, medications are given to slow down the progress of the condition and minimize the joint pain. Arthritis is a chronic disease, so symptoms may come and go, or persist over time.


Diagnosing arthritis requires a detailed medical history of current and past symptoms, physical examination, X-rays, and blood tests. In some cases MRI and ultrasound may be used. It is possible to have more than one form of arthritis at the same time.

FAQs prepared by doctor

Q1.  What are the types of arthritis?
Some common types of arthritis are described below.
It is sometimes called degenerative arthritis because it involves the breakdown of cartilage and bones. This causes pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis usually affects the fingers and weight-bearing joints including the knees feet hips and back. It affects both men and women and usually occurs after age 45.
Fibromyalgia affects muscles and their attachments to bone. It results in widespread pain and tender points which are certain places on the body that are more sensitive to pain. It also may result in fatigue disturbed sleep stiffness and sometimes psychological distress. Fibromyalgia affects mostly women. It is common and often misdiagnosed.
Rheumatoid arthritis
In rheumatoid arthritis a fault in the body s defense or immune system causes inflammation or swelling. Inflammation begins in the joint lining and then damages both cartilage and bone. Rheumatoid arthritis often affects the same joints on both sides of the body. Hands wrists feet knees ankles shoulders and elbows can be affected. Rheumatoid arthritis is more common in women than in men
Gout results when the body is unable to get rid of a natural substance called uric acid. The uric acid forms needle-like crystals in the joint that cause severe pain and swelling. Gout usually affects the big toe knees and wrists. More men than women have gout. Foods such as organ meats beer wine and certain types of fish contain high levels of purines should be restricted.
Low back pain
Low back pain results from a back injury or certain types of arthritis. Back pain is one of the most common health problems in the United States. It can occur at any age in both men and women.
Bursitis and tendinitis
Bursitis and tendinitis result from irritation caused by injuring or overusing a joint. Bursitis affects a small sac that helps muscles move easily; tendinitis affects the tendons that attach muscle to bone.
Other types
There are many more types of arthritis and related diseases includingÿankylosing spondylitisÿarthritis polymyalgiaÿandÿlupus erythematosus.

Q2.  I am diagnosed osteoarthritis. Which is the best treatment for it?
Patients with mild and intermittent symptoms may need only reassurance or non-pharmacologic treatments. The simplest effective treatment for many patients is to avoid activities that precipitate pain. For example, for the middle-aged patient whose long-distance running brings on symptoms of knee OA, a less demanding form of weight-bearing activity may alleviate all symptoms. For an older person whose daily constitutionals up and down hills bring on knee pain, routing the constitutional away from hills might eliminate symptoms.
Patients with ongoing, disabling pain are likely to need both non-pharmaco and pharmacotherapy which includes Acetaminophen, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), and COX-2 Inhibitors.

Q3.  How safe is intra articular injections for osteo arthritis?
Since synovial inflammation is likely to be a major cause of pain in patients with OA, local anti-inflammatory treatments administered intraarticularly may be effective in ameliorating pain, at least temporarily. Glucocorticoid injections provide such efficacy. Glucocorticoid injections are useful to get patients over acute flares of pain and may be especially indicated if the patient has coexistent OA and crystal deposition disease, especially from calcium pyrophosphate dihydrate crystals. There is no evidence that repeated glucocorticoid injections into the joint are dangerous. Hyaluronic acid injections can also be given for treatment of symptoms in knee and hip OA.

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