Here’s a fact: there are actually over a hundred types of arthritis!
However, forms of arthritis like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are more common in patients than in other types. In this article, we’ll take a look at the five most common types of arthritis, their causes and ways to treat them.
What is arthritis?
Mayo Clinic defines arthritis as follows:
Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age.
Although commonly associated with old age and brittle bones, conditions that cause arthritis can also affect tendons, ligaments and even other organs like the kidneys, as is the case with lupus. Arthritis can happen in anyone regardless of age, but age is a risk factor for specific forms of arthritis.
When the word “arthritis” comes to mind, most people think of osteoarthritis: wear and tear of the joints caused by overuse and the breakdown of cartilage between bones from excessive weight-bearing.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a chronic condition: it usually develops slowly and gradually worsens. Osteoarthritis is characterised by pain and stiffness in the affected joints, and in severe cases completely inhibits movement and mobility. Typically, pain is the worst in the morning, and feeling unstable is a common experience.
If caught on time, osteoarthritis can be managed at home! Exercises tailored according to your symptoms can help restore or improve some of the functions lost to the condition. Water exercises like swimming are especially ideal as water resistance strengthens the muscles to compensate for lost function, while the water buoyancy reduces stress on the joints while exercising.
2. Inflammatory arthritis— eg: rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus
Inflammatory arthritis conditions are autoimmune disorders: an overactive immune system mistakes body tissues for harmful pathogens and attacks them, causing inflammation of the joints and the tissues around them. This also means that inflammatory arthritis is chronic and lifelong, and can affect people of any age—mostly young people at their physical peak.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is said to affect up to 1% of the world population (that’s almost 78 million people!) and can be debilitating: it typically starts at the hands and the feet, impeding function. Besides pain, swelling and stiffness in multiple joints, key symptoms of RA include:
- Unsteadiness while walking
- Morning stiffness
- Decreased range of motion
- Pain during motion and/or tenderness of at least 1 joint
- Soft tissue swelling of at least 1 joint
Rheumatoid arthritis is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20-60, with patients aged 40-50 overrepresented in all cases. However, it can also be diagnosed in youth aged 16 and below (referred to as juvenile RA)—sadly, this condition is often associated with greater and more severe systemic effects.
Treating RA often involves a myriad of therapies: heat or ice pack therapy, electrotherapy and specific stretching exercises are common treatment methods. Rheumatologists (doctors who specialise in treating musculoskeletal disorders with autoimmune roots) may also prescribe drugs if necessary alongside chiropractic care, as well as a modified diet.
Psoriatic arthritis is developed in patients with psoriasis, a skin condition identifiable by red, itchy scaling on the body that happens when white blood cells mistakenly attack skin cells. Psoriatic arthritis emerges from this same immune response when the joints and surrounding tissue get targeted and inflamed; it often bears resemblance to rheumatoid arthritis.
While there is sadly no cure for psoriatic arthritis, chiropractors and medical professionals recommend the following practices to ease daily living:
- Reduce consumption of trans fats and damaged fats
- Increase intake of anti-inflammatory foods such as Omega-3 and nuts
- Drink less alcohol
The following will also help with psoriatic arthritis:
- Heat or cold pack to decrease pain and reduce swelling
- Seeing a chiropractor help with improving the function and range of motion of the joints as well as improving the function of the nervous system to allow healing
- Tailored exercises and stretches
Lupus is more common in women than men (who form 90% of all known cases) and is typically diagnosed between the ages of 15-44. Similarly to RA and psoriatic arthritis, lupus can trigger arthritis when the immune system attacks the joints and surrounding tissues. The onset of arthritis may sometimes also be indicative of kidney disease. Celebrities with lupus include Selena Gomez, who underwent a kidney transplant due to her condition.
Chiropractic for autoimmune disease like lupus often complements medical care in restoring function and mobility. Examples of such treatments include specific chiropractic adjustments along with manual soft tissue therapies, heat and cold therapies, ultrasound therapy to relieve pain and reduce swelling and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to stimulate muscles and nerves.
The benefits of chiropractic care are backed up by early-stage clinical research. According to research conducted on a 34 year old lupus patient undergoing chiropractic care by Dr Matthew McCoy, it’s suggested that chiropractic could potentially also alleviate the suffering of lupus patients due to its role in “re-establishing normal neurological function which benefits the immune system of the patient”.
Gout is caused by too much uric acid in the body, leading to the formation of uric acid crystals around the joints and body tissues—metabolic arthritis.
This condition usually occurs in one joint at a time, mostly in the big toe joint, lesser toe joints, knees and ankles. Intense pain, swelling and inflammation are some of the symptoms of gout. Gout is characterised by flares and remissions (periods of easing), which can make life unpredictable and uncertain.
Managing gout involves lowering uric acid levels in the body, mostly through dietary modifications. Limit alcohol intake and avoid high-purine foods such as refined carbohydrates, added sugars, red and processed meats, seafood and sweetened beverages.
Chiropractors also recommend hot and cold therapies on the affected areas to relieve pain during flare-ups. Your chiropractor can teach you proprioception exercises to strengthen the joints and maintain its sense of position.
While arthritis is often inconvenient and even painful, it’s thankfully manageable due to the myriad of treatment options out there including chiropractic care. Should you ever need proper guidance on managing your arthritis, feel free to give us a call at 62084669 or drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org!