What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term for numerous conditions that affect bone joints. The disease can be genetic, something that you inherit from your parents. In other cases, it may be caused by infection, obesity, bone damage, or another disease.
Regardless of the cause or type of arthritis, people with arthritis experience chronic pain and swelling in their joints.
More than 46 million people in the United States – and about 300 million people worldwide – suffer from pain and swelling in joints. Many people think it is a disease that older people get as their joints wear down.
It is true that the most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, mostly affects people aged sixty and older. But people of any age can develop it and even children are not immune from developing joint pains and swellings due to many causes. Together these forms are called juvenile arthritis. Some young People develop osteoarthritis, but the most common form of juvenile arthritis is JRA.
There are two main types of arthritis – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They are quite different from each other. Osteoarthritis is a condition that occurs when cartilage that covers the ends of bones in the joints breaks down and wears away. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease caused by problems with the body’s immune system, when the body forms antibodies that start destroying the joint capsules.
Types of arthritis
Type of arthritis in which cartilage loses its elasticity, and becomes stiff. Due to stiffness, damage can occur easily and along with this ligaments and tendons become stretched and it causes painful condition.
It is a chronic inflammatory disease which involves multiple joints in a symmetrical pattern, leads to permanent destruction or deformity of the joints. Presence of rheumatoid factor confirms the diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis.
It is caused due to an infection in the synovial fluid or tissues of a joint often caused by bacteria, but sometimes viruses and fungi.
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis
Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common rheumatic disease in children, the etiology of JRA is unknown.
Causes of arthritis
- Injury -can damage to bone, ligament and cartilage that ultimately leads to severe pain.
- Infection – Any kind of infection to the joint may result in inflammation, pain and swelling.
- Obesity and advanced age
- Overuse – Overuse of knee joint can cause bursitis which ultimately leads to intense pain.
- Sprain- Due to sudden unnatural movements causes pain as well as restriction of movement of the joint.
- Malignancy – Myeloma, metastatic carcinoma.
- Dislocation – Also causes severe arthritis.
- Other causes – Include Sarcoidosis, Sickle cell disease, Lupus, Kawasaki disease, Crohn’s disease, bone tumors, bleeding disorders etc.
Some specific disease conditions causes complaints of arthritis in children
• Rheumatic fever
• Sickle cell disease
• Turner syndrome
• Kawasaki disease
• Reactive arthritis
• Behcet disease
• Infective endocarditis
• Systemic Lupus Arthritis (SLE)
• Reiter’s syndrome
• Psoriatic arthritis
Diagnosis of arthritis
- Complete physical examination – Include inspection of affected joint, movement, stiffness, tenderness, swelling and other important findings.
- Microscopic examination – Of joint fluid.
- X-ray – To diagnose fracture and assess arthritic changes in joint surface.
- MRI – to detect ligament rupture and extent of injury to the joint.
- Montoux Test – To diagnose tuberculosis
- Blood tests/Hematology – Include complete blood count and blood culture (infective arthitis), ESR, ASLO, CRP, RA Factor, ANA etc.
- Urine test – Mainly for blood, sugar and protein etc.
Symptoms of arthritis
Mainly stiffness, redness, swelling, limitation of movements; may also associated with fever, weight loss, carditis in specific medical conditions of arthritis.
• Joints pain
• Inflamed joints
• Redness and heat in joints
• Stiff joints
• Crackling sound
• Restricted movements
• Joints deformity
• Patients often experiences fatigue, weakness, anorexia in cases of rheumatoid arthritis
• High temperature with or without chill may be a feature of septic arthritis
Treatment of arthritis
Drug treatment – includes Anti-Inflammatory agents, ranging from mild and familiar oral medication NSAID, such as ibuprofen, to powerful new medications, such as etanercept and infliximab.
Immunosuppressive medicines (drugs that inhibit the immune system) like methotrexate may be prescribed in rheumatoid arthritis, especially when the activity of disease is moderate or severe.
Antibiotics are used in infective arthritis.
Uric acid- lowering agents are employed to treat gout.
Corticosteroids – are injected in to the involved joints where only one or two joints are inflamed. Oral steroids are given for systemic arthritis.
Surgical treatment – surgical treatments, carried out by orthopedic surgeons, are indicated to repair or reconstruct some damaged joints that are painful or causing disability because they are no longer mechanically functional. Progress in joint replacement technology applicable to large weight-bearing joints-hips and knees has been dramatic over the past three decades. In some cases, shoulder or elbow replacement can give good results as well.
Physical and occupational therapy – physical and occupational therapy have an important place in the treatment of arthritis.
Homeopathic treatment of arthritis
Homeopathy is one of the most popular holistic systems of medicine. The selection of remedy is based upon the theory of individualization and symptoms similarity by using holistic approach.
This is the only way through which a state of complete health can be regained by removing all the sign and symptoms from which the patient is suffering.
The aim of homeopathy is not only to treat arthritis but to address its underlying cause and individual susceptibility. As far as therapeutic medication is concerned, several well-proved medicines are available for homeopathic treatment of joint pains that can be selected on the basis of cause, location, sensation, modalities and extension of the complaints.
For individualized remedy selection and treatment, the patient should consult a qualified homeopathic doctor in person. Some important remedies are given below for the homeopathic treatment of arthritis:
- Bryonia alba. – pain with inflammation, which is aggravated by movement and relieved by moderate pressure and rest. Joints are red, hot, and swollen. Worse by least movement, rubbing, warmth, and in the morning.
- Apis mel – excellent medicine for acute arthritis; affected part is red, shiny, and swollen; there is great tenderness of joints; pains are better by applying cold water.
- Ledum pal. – Excellent remedy for gout and rheumatism which is of ascending nature, better by cold application. arthritic deposits; swelling and stiffness in the joints.
- Kalmia latifolia – excellent remedy for rheumatic patients when pain travels downwards with numbness; complaints of arthritis with palpitation of the heart.
- Rhus tox. – pain aggravated by first movement, damp weather and better by continuous motion. Complaints get worse in rainy, damp season and in winters; pain in joints with marked restlessness, stiffness along with tearing pain which is worse by rest and better by motion.
- Kali carb – intense burning, stitching pain; backache along with great weakness and profuse sweating.
- Acid flour – abnormal growth of bones; it softens the bones and absorbs the nodes; affected parts are red in color.
- Colchicum – pain worse by motion touch or mental effort, better by warmth and rest. Swelling and pain in the joints of finger and knee. Excellent remedy for post traumatic arthritis of small joints following fracture or surgery.
- Kalmia latifolia – descending type of pain, pain with palpitation of heart and slow pulse.
- Cactus G – edematous swelling of the extremities; cardiac rheumatism when heart is affected and joints are freed from pain.
- Guaiacum. – complaints in syphilitic and tubercular patients; gouty abscesses of joints; intense swelling with pain in the joints which is worse by warmth; shooting type of pain from feet to knees; leg and ankle bones are especially affected; complaints ameliorated by cold bath and cold applications.
- Thuja – arthritic complaints in those patients who have history of gonorrhea.
- Calcarea carb. – Arthritic swelling, knee pain especially in fleshy people which is worse by cold. Slow development of bony tissues, especially suited to fleshy people in which one part of the bone is nourished and other is underdeveloped; swelling and gouty nodules in hands and finger joints; pain and swelling in knee joint; complaints are worse by cold.
- Dulcamara – arthritic complaints from exposure to damp, cold , and getting wet; complaints in those patients who live in damp basements; arthritis due to suppression of perspiration..
- Calcarea flour – defective bony growth, bones ulcerated; fistula; complaints worse in cold and better in warmth.
- Calcarea phos – arthritis with softness of bones with weakness of neck and shoulder; best suited to children; helps in development of bones.
- Symphytum – arthritis following an injury or fracture.
- Benzoic acid – gouty concretions of joints, knee pain due to abnormal deposition of uric acid.Wandering pains, which change position suddenly.
- Oxalic acid – Especially for left sided affections; violent pains in back down the thigh ameliorated by changing position.
- Hypericum. – Rheumatoid arthritis with nerve pain or neuralgia.
- Caulophyllum – cutting pain in joints, especially in finger joints, when closing the fist.
- Pulsatilla – suited for gouty complaints of knee joints; boring pain in the heels towards evening.
- Radium brom – remarkable remedy for chronic rheumatic arthritis; intense pain in all the limbs and joints, such as knee, ankles, arms, shoulders, fingers, calves, toes; better by continuous motion and cold air.
Along with medication, rest in acute stage, exercise in chronic stage, weight management and nutrition are of much importance in the management of arthritis.