What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is not really a single disease. It is a word used to describe pain, inflammation and swelling in one or more joints.
It is a conditions that can affect people of all ages (even children and teenagers) and sexes. There are indeed more than 100 types of arthritis but the most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Other forms of arthritis are:
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Cervical spondylosis
- Joint infections
- Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Enteropathic arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Septic arthritis
- Polymyalgia rheumatica
- Thumb arthritis
Symptoms of Arthritis
Since there are different forms of arthritis, also symptoms may vary. Depending on the type you have signs and symptoms may include:
- Joint Pain
- Stiffness and tenderness
- Redness and inflammation in and around joints
- Decreased range of motion
Arthritis can also cause permanent joint changes. Most of these changes can only be seen on X-ray, but sometimes they are visible (knobby finger joints). Some forms of arthritis not only affects the joints but also heart, eyes, lungs, and kidneys.
Symptoms may come and go and can be mild, moderate or severe.
So if you have these kind of symptoms it’s important to have an accurate diagnosis.
You have to bear in mind that symptoms may stay about the same for years or can progress and get worse.
Pain can become chronic in case of severe arthritis and can deal to the inability to perform daily activities. also walking and climbing stairs may become difficult.
And make it difficult to walk or climb stairs.
Risk factors for Arthritis
Some risk factors may be taken into account such as
- family history
- sex (for example women are more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more prone to gout)
- previous injuries (such as anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL injury).
The Arthritis can be diagnosed through blood tests, X-Rays of other imaging scans. Different specialists may be involved in the diagnosis such as arthritis specialists, or rheumatologists. While the orthopaedic surgeon can perform joint surgery, including joint replacements.
Depending on the body parts that are affected (heart, kidneys, eyes,…) other specialists such as reumatologist, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, nephrologists should consulted for diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment for Arthritis
Bearing in mind that there is no cure for arthritis, treatments always depend on the type of arthritis. For this reason finding out the cause of the pain is the key to finding the right treatment, considering that the main goals of treatment are reducing symptoms, recover joint function and improve the quality of life.
We can say that treatments have improved a lot in the last years and there are many treatment that can help slow arthritis symptoms down, in particular in the case of inflammatory arthritis.
Treatments may include:
- Medications for example with painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids
Physical therapy can help in some form of arthritis to strengthen the muscle and improve the range of motion.
For example, swimming and doing exercise in water are good because they reduce stress on the joints while strengthening the muscles and keeping the joints flexible.
Changes in lifestyle and alternative medicine may also be helpful.
Diet – following a diet free from sugar and fats (such as dairies) can help reduce the inflammation and lose weight to reduce the stress on your joint.
Alternative Medicine is uis being used more and more often by many people and even if there is no scientific evidence to support many of these remedies some of them are quite promising, such as:
- Acupuncture for Arthritis
- Yoga, tai chi and similar Eastern disciplines that involve slow movements
- Massages made by a therapist that can improve blood circulation and warm the affected joints
In some cases, an orthopedic surgeon may suggest surgery to
- Repair Joints (to smooth and relingn them)
- Replace Joints Joint replacement is usually performed to replace hips and knees with artificial ones
- Fuse Joints – Joint Fusion Surgery is performed in case of severe arthritis pain and in particular for wrists, ankles and fingers.It is also called arthrodesis and it is a procedure that fuses together the two bones by removing the ends of the two bones in the joint and then locking their ends together into one rigid unit.
The experience of Prof. Portinaro
Although Prof Portinaro is mainly a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon, he has gained a great deal of experience over the years in performing surgeries such as joint repair, joint replacement and fusion, in both arthritis and non-arthritis patients.