Arthritis : 3 Major Causes, Symptoms, Preventive Measures And Important

Arthritis refers to a variety of conditions that impact the joints in your body where two or more bones meet, like in your wrists, knuckles, hips, knees, and ankles. This damage to the joints can cause varying degrees of pain and discomfort, affecting individuals of all age groups.

Also read: Cruciate Ligament Injury! Athletes Nightmare, Meaning, Ways To Manage And Avoid It

Arthritis is a condition characterized by inflammation and sensitivity in one or multiple joints. The primary indications of arthritis include joint discomfort and rigidity, which commonly increase as a person gets older.

The two most prevalent forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, which results in the deterioration of cartilage that cushions the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system targets joint tissues, starting with the joint lining.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis results to stiffness of muscles and inflammation of joints.
Signs of arthritis


Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterized by inflammation and damage in the joints. It occurs when the protective cartilage between bones wears away, leading to bone rubbing and causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.

This can hinder daily activities like walking or climbing stairs. While it can affect any joint, it commonly impacts the knees, hips, fingers, toes, ankles, and spine.

Osteoarthritis is different from osteoporosis, where bones become weak and prone to fractures.

Symptoms of osteoarthritis typically develop gradually and worsen over time. These symptoms may include:

pain: Pain in the joints may occur while moving or following physical activity.

stiffness: Stiffness in the joints may be most apparent when first waking up or after a period of inactivity.

Tenderness: Tenderness in your joint may be felt when light pressure is applied to or near it.

Loss of flexibility: loss or Decreased flexibility may result in being unable to move your joint through its complete range of motion.

A grating sensation: The sensation of grating could be experienced when using the joint, accompanied by popping or crackling sounds.

Bone spurs: Bone spurs, similar to hard lumps, can develop around the joint.
swelling in the affected joint: Swelling may occur due to inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Ankylosing spondylitis progresses by the formation of new bone in an effort to heal, leading to the fusion of vertebrae over time.

This fusion can result in a rigid, hunched posture due to the flattening of the natural spinal curves. There are two types of axial spondyloarthritis, one seen on X-ray known as ankylosing spondylitis, and the other, nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis, diagnosed based on symptoms and other tests.

Symptoms usually start in early adulthood, and inflammation may affect other areas like the eyes.

Commonly affected areas include the joint connecting the base of the spine and pelvis, the vertebrae in the lower back, points where tendons and ligaments attach to bones (primarily in the spine and occasionally at the back of the heel), the cartilage between the breastbone and ribs, and the hip and shoulder joints.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis, previously referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, is the most prevalent form of arthritis in children under 16 years old. It can result in ongoing discomfort, swelling, and restricted movement in the joints.

The duration of symptoms can vary among children, with some experiencing them for a short period and others enduring them for an extended period of time.

Certain forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis can lead to severe issues, including growth impairments, joint damage, and eye inflammation. The approach to treatment involves managing pain and inflammation, enhancing functionality, and averting further harm.

Gout: This is a prevalent type of arthritis that can impact anyone and is known for causing sudden and intense pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or multiple joints, typically the big toe. During a gout episode, the affected joint may feel like it’s burning, making it challenging to even bear the touch of a light sheet.

The primary indicators of juvenile idiopathic arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and rash. Kids with this condition may exhibit symptoms like limping, joint swelling (especially in larger joints like the knee), clumsiness, and fever along with swollen lymph nodes and a rash on the trunk that worsens in the evenings.

Gout is a prevalent type of arthritis that can impact anyone and is known for causing sudden and intense pain, swelling, redness, and tenderness in one or multiple joints, typically the big toe.

During a gout episode, the affected joint may feel like it’s burning, making it challenging to even bear the touch of a light sheet.

Symptoms of gout typically appear suddenly, often at night. They include intense joint pain, commonly in the big toe but can affect any joint like ankles, knees, elbows, wrists, and fingers.

The pain is most severe within the first four to 12 hours. After the initial intense pain, there may be lingering discomfort for a few days to weeks. Inflammation, swelling, tenderness, warmth, and redness in the affected joints are common.

As gout advances, there may be limited range of motion in the joints.

If you suddenly feel intense pain in a joint, it’s important to contact your doctor. Leaving untreated gout can result in increased pain and damage to the joint. Seek immediate medical attention if you have a fever and notice a hot and inflamed joint, as this could indicate an infection.

Reactive arthritis: this is a condition where joint pain and inflammation are caused by an infection elsewhere in the body, typically in the intestines, genitals, or urinary tract. This condition primarily affects the knees, ankles, and feet, but can also involve the eyes, skin, and urethra.

Previously known as Reiter’s syndrome, reactive arthritis is not very common and symptoms usually resolve within a year, with signs coming and going intermittently.

Reactive arthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness in joints, particularly in the knees, ankles, and feet. Additionally, individuals may experience eye inflammation, urinary problems, tendon and ligament inflammation, swollen fingers or toes, skin issues like sores and rashes, and low back pain which is often more severe at night or in the morning.

Causes of Arthritis


The exact reasons behind various types of arthritis remain unclear, with genetic factors possibly playing a role. Arthritis can be caused by immune system issues or metabolic conditions like gout. Risk factors for arthritis include;
Family history of the condition,
Excess weight,
Repetitive joint movements, and
Previous joint injuries.

Symptoms of arthritis

Common symptoms of arthritis typically affect the joints and can vary depending on the type, such as:

Pain and stiffness are common symptoms of reactive arthritis, with joint pain typically affecting the knees, ankles, and feet. Additionally, pain can manifest in the heels, lower back, or buttocks.

Swelling: In certain situations, toes or fingers can become greatly swollen to the point where they resemble sausages. This could be due to inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Eye inflammation is a common symptom in individuals with reactive arthritis.

Limited range of motion: experiencing a rough or irritating feeling. Using the joint may result in a grating sensation, and there could be sounds of popping or crackling.
Bone growths. Hard lumps known as bone spurs can develop around the joint that is affected.

Gout arthritis can cause prolonged discomfort even after the intense pain decreases, with joint pain lasting from several days to a few weeks.

Subsequent bouts of gout may be more severe, lasting a longer time and affecting multiple joints. The affected joints may show signs of inflammation, appearing swollen, tender, warm, and red.

Preventive measures

Controlling your weight is crucial for managing arthritis symptoms, as extra weight can increase pressure on your joints, particularly the knees, hips, and feet.

It is advised to shed excess weight if you have osteoarthritis and are overweight or obese. Even losing just 5% of your body weight can lead to significant improvements in mobility, pain reduction, and safeguarding your joints from further damage.

Ensure that you engage in regular physical activity, especially if you have arthritis. By doing so, you can effectively maintain your weight, enhance the flexibility of your joints, and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints to provide added support.

The CDC suggests aiming for 150 minutes of exercise each week, with examples of suitable low-impact activities like walking, cycling, tai chi, water exercises, and swimming.

If you’re uncertain about how to begin, consult a healthcare provider or fitness expert for assistance in creating a personalized exercise regimen.

Using hot and cold therapy can be beneficial in relieving arthritis pain and inflammation. Warm treatments like taking a warm shower or using an electric blanket can help with stiffness, while cold treatments like applying a gel ice pack can reduce joint pain and swelling.

Topical ointments containing capsaicin, a component of chili peppers, can also provide warmth to soothe joint pain.

Individuals with RA are at a higher risk of experiencing depression compared to those without the condition. Stress, anxiety, and depression can worsen arthritis by increasing inflammation in the body.

To help manage pain associated with arthritis, incorporating relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, guided imagery, and massage can be beneficial.

Eating a nutritious diet can have a positive impact on your health. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole foods into your meals can enhance your immune system and well-being.

Studies indicate that certain diets, such as vegan and Mediterranean diets, are linked to lower arthritis symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce joint pain and stiffness. To manage arthritis effectively, consider including recommended foods and avoiding certain items in your diet.

Note that A vegan diet eliminates all animal products, while Mediterranean diets exclude red meat and focus mainly on plants but include fish, chicken, and dairy in moderation.

Also at the core of the Mediterranean diet are plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, nuts, beans, and whole grains.

This diet also includes moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, eggs, and seafood but limits consumption of red meat to occasional indulgences.
Arthritis treatment aims to alleviate symptoms and enhance joint function. It might be necessary to experiment with various treatments or a mix of treatments to find the most effective approach for your condition.

NSAIDs, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can reduce pain and inflammation.

However, stronger NSAIDs can lead to stomach problems and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. NSAIDs are also available in creams or gels for joint pain relief. Counterirritants with menthol or capsaicin can be applied topically to interfere with pain signals.


Steroids, such as prednisone, can reduce inflammation and pain, but may have side effects like bone thinning, weight gain, and diabetes. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, but can increase infection risk.

Physical therapy can improve range of motion and muscle strength around joints.
Surgery options include joint repair, replacement, or fusion in cases where conservative treatments are not effective.

Arthroscopic procedures are often used for joint repair, while joint replacement is commonly done for hips and knees. Joint fusion is more common for smaller joints like wrists, ankles, and fingers.

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