Sunday, 7 September 2014

GETTING IT RIGHT WITH ARTHRITIS

by ABE ONCHE 


It creeps into your joints and plays havoc with your nerves, and at the worst times it keeps you up late at night. It leaves you spontaneously swelling, sapping your strength and before you know it, the simple joys of going down the stairs or pressing a remote control become a waking nightmare.  You can hold off the call to your pastor, though. It's no malevolent spirit, it's more likely ARTHRITIS.

What is Arthritis?

This is a bit like asking a mechanic what is wrong with your suspension. Arthritis is a common term used to describe a joint disorder that features varying amounts of pain, reduced flexibility and dexterity, as well as fatigue. The tissues, muscles and bones of the joint all show varying signs of damage that worsen as the condition grows. There are several forms of arthritis that are classified for the specific characteristics that people exhibit.

Is it genetic? How is it contracted?

The major causes of arthritis are trauma to the affected joint, infection and aging. "Trauma" refers to differing degrees of injury that collectively lead to wear and tear within the joint. Infection, mostly by bacteria, is also capable of producing similar trauma to the joints. This damage features eroding the bone and tissue until they grind together like old gears. In infectious cases, called septic arthritis, damage to the joints is controlled by rapid detection and administering antibiotics.

What are the predisposing/contributory factors?

Obesity, sedentary living and a previous history of injury to the joints are the things that predispose people to arthritis. An unbalanced diet low in calcium has also been suggested among the culprits.
Arthritis is mostly associated with older people, especially women, primarily due to the most common form called osteoarthritis which is coupled with decreased calcium retention in the onset of menopause.  Women by the age of 60 tend to have some osteoarthritis, so when Mama starts to complain, you should listen. Osteoarthritis is less common in men, and almost rare in children. However, other forms of arthritis affect a much broader population, with notable examples like septic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and gout.

Major symptoms of arthritis

· Pain – all victims of arthritis suffer from pain in the joints
· Swelling – more common in rheumatoid and gouty arthritis
· Difficulty moving the joint/loss of full range of motion
· Poor sleep and general discomfort

What are the available treatment options/procedures?

Diagnosis of arthritis is by clinical examination following a study of the history of the joint, and x-rays are likely to be performed. Recent research has been able to pinpoint biomarkers for rheumatoid arthritis. Think of them as Nature's little red indicators that can help very early diagnosis.
There is no cure for arthritis, so forget about popping pills and laying back. Arthritis is best handled by physical therapy and lifestyle changes. In more extreme cases, orthopedic braces are required and even surgery (a procedure called arthroscopy) can be performed but it is universally accepted that physical therapy is the most effective.  

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