Joint pains have been a scourge for humans since ancient times when natural methods of seeking relief from the unbearable agony were employed. The pains are estimated to afflict over 40 million Americans and 20 million Asians. "Joint pain can be of different types but the most common has been that of arthritis and not only it is a problem with people above 60 years but has become a regular for people from all age groups," says K Chakroborthy, a leading orthopedist.
Here are the different pains that have become very common today:
Arthritis is a term which refers to inflammation of one or more joints in the body, with the most common cause relating to injury and as there are different types of inflammation so arthritis is also of various kinds. "Although research has proved that there are almost 100 kinds of arthritis prevailing across the globe, only few become prominent with complicated cases coming in day in and out," he says.
Osteoarthritis mostly affects cartilage, a tissue that cushions the ends of bones within the joint. This mainly occurs when cartilage begins to decay and in some cases all of cartilage may wear away between bones of the joint, leaving bones rubbing against each other.
"This is seen most frequently in the joints that are most used and abused. It also affects large weight-bearing joints of the body, such as knees and hips. Nonetheless, by the age of 30, 35 per cent of people begin to show some signs of osteoarthritic changes in their knees and by ages 70 to 79, at least 85% of people have diagnosable osteoarthritis," he adds.
Rheumatoid arthritis is usually seen in peripheral joints (say in the hands, elbows and knees) "In this type if you have pain on the right hand then after some time the pain will shift on the left," says Chakroborthy. Rheumatoid arthritis affects approximately three times more women than men, and most often appears between the ages of 35 and 50.
Painful and stiff joints do not necessarily develop as a result of growing old. Although most commonly caused by wear and tear and injury, joint pain can be caused by more serious conditions like an auto-immune disorder that causes stiffness and pain in the joints and osteoarthritis, which involves growth of bone spurs and degeneration of cartilage at a joint. Gout, metabolic disorders and bone diseases and very rarely tumours and can cause immense joint pain.
Evaluating joint pain may be difficult because some symptoms and signs are common to various underlying conditions. Diagnosis may involve a detailed analysis of your medical history and a thorough physical examination. "Many laboratory tests are being recommended and x-ray scans or procedures like MRI and CT scans are recommended initially," he says. The doctor may also refer you to a specialist for an arthroscopy, where a small, flexible tube is inserted into the joint to examine through a very small skin incision to examine the interior regions.
In most cases anti-inflammatory medications along with adequate rest, warm baths, massage, and stretching exercises may provide relief. "There are many kinds of joint pain medications, but until recently the most popular were a class of anti-inflammatory drugs called COX-2 inhibitors and is sold under the brand names Vioxx, Celebrex, Bextra and others, these drugs are able to reduce the inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and related conditions," he says.
The symptoms of joint pains will vary according to their cause. Symptoms like pain, swelling, stiffness, and/or warmth in your joints suggest joint inflammation due to an injury or an underlying condition like arthritis. These symptoms can also be due to an infection in the joint. Affected joints may be red, swollen and painful to touch and joint mobility may be restricted and it may be difficult to pinpoint the actual source of pain - the joint itself, the tissues surrounding it or an affected ligament or tendon. When joint pain is severe or ongoing you may need to see a doctor to determine the exact cause and identify the most appropriate treatment.
o Dry scalp along with dandruff is the first symptom of having arthritis.
o If an individual's dry skin looks whitish in diverse parts of body.
o If a person has skin wrinkles along neck area then the person is possibly suffering from arthritis.
o One of the most common symptoms can be complexion becoming pale.
In rheumatoid arthritis if you have pain on the right hand then after some time the pain will shift on the left.
— K Chakroborthy, a leading orthopedist
Image source: Sakhi
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