Understanding Arthritis: Types, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Arthritis is a group of inflammatory conditions affecting the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. There are several types of arthritis, with the most common being osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Osteoarthritis (OA):

Cause: OA occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time.
Symptoms: Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, especially in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.
Treatment: Focuses on pain management and improving joint function. Includes medication, physical therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

Schematic of healthy (a) and osteoarthritis (OA) knee joints (b)

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA):

Cause: An autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system attacks the synovium, the lining of the membranes surrounding the joints.
Symptoms: Joint inflammation, pain, stiffness, and fatigue. Can lead to joint deformity and damage.
Treatment: Aimed at reducing inflammation, relieving symptoms, and preventing joint damage. Includes medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): AP radiograph of the hand demonstrates periarticular osteopenia (reduced bone density around the joints); reduced radiocarpal and intercarpal joint spaces; erosions (arrows), and subluxation of the metacarpophalangeal joints (white circles)

Other Forms of Arthritis:

Gout: Caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, leading to sudden and severe attacks of pain, swelling, and redness.
Lupus Arthritis: A symptom of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease that can affect multiple organs, including the joints.

-> Treatment for arthritis aims to reduce pain, improve joint function, and slow disease progression. While there is no cure for arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management can help individuals with arthritis lead fulfilling lives with minimal joint pain and stiffness.

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