Arthritis is a generic term used for any of more than 100 diseases of the joints which are commonly accompanied by pain, siffness and swelling. Many get crippled by arthritis. The two chief forms of this disease are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease which occurs when a joint wears out. It is common among the elderly and it may also occur if a joint has been injured may times. The joints most frequently affected are those of the hands, hips, knees, lower back and neck. If hips and knees are badly diseased, severe disability may result. According to specialists, victims suffer pain and may feel a grating sensation when they move. This is because the cartilage between two bones breaks down, causing those bones to rub against each other. Knobs of hardened bits of cartilage and bones can develop in the joint to cause swelling and deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis is called “the great crippler” and most of its victims are between the ages of 20 and 40. Joints become hot, painful, red and swollen. It is commonly found in wrists and knuckles, but it may strike any joint. In extreme cases it may spread throughout the body, damaging organs and connective tissue. If untreated the diseased joints eventually stiffen in deformed positions. Inflamed tissue and other substances in a joint erode the bone and cartilage though physicians believe that rheumatoid arthritis is caused by either micro organism or the body’s attack on its own tissues (autoimmunity) or both.
The other forms of arthritis include gout, ankylosing spondylitis and septic arthritis. Gout causes swellings, mostly in the joint that connects big toe and the foot (bunion joint) and is caused by the presence of too much uric acid in the blood. Ankylosing spondylitis inflames the spinal joints and is prevalent among young men. Physical therapy and drugs are recommended. Septic arthritis is caused by bacteria, occurs mostly after a lung or skin infection, surgery of the joint, or any venereal disease.
In everybody’s mind some dark thoughts arise when arthritis is mentioned. It is painful, is it chronic? Is it disabling? Does it make a patient dependent? Does it make him semi-productive or unproductive? Those suffering from this ailments are apt to lose confidence. Frustration fills the mind after prolonged treatment and best available advice.
The earliest symptom appearing is pain in a joint often referred to as rheumatism. Generally it appears in the winter season. Afflicted people resort to heat and massage. When the pain persists they visit a doctor resort to heat and massage. When the pain persists they visit a doctor. At one time or other we have all had rheumatic pain. Patients with chronic pain agree that it is easier to suffer excruciating pain for a short time. But a chronic pain, even if it is slight and dull, which is continuous is frustrating. Many sufferers take it for granted that this pain will never leave them. This is why many await their end with eagerness, praying to God again and again to lift them up from this world. One has to live the life in this world with a hundred pains, some of the body, some of the heart and some of the mind. Hindu philosophy suggests that we suffer in this life for the bed deeds in our previous life.
When the pain progresses slowly over a week or a week or a month, the person feels tired, with pain and malaise almost in all muscles. There is stiffness in the joints while getting up in the morning especially in the small joints of the hand. Later there is a swelling pain and tenderness in the joints. It generally involves bilateral joints, in both hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. The main complaint of patients is that joints become stiff if they do not use them for sometime. As the pain continues the patient faces increasing difficulty in moving around, climbing stairs, opening a door, opening a jar a sewing. Such patients, gradually get depressed, lose some weight and sometimes may have low grade fever. The diagnosis for such a patient will be rheumatoid arthritis. It is a disease produced newly. Many develop crippling deformities of hands and feet and a crippling limitation of movements in certain joints and may need surgery for their correction, crutches and aids for walking and working.