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Coming to terms with Arthritis

World Arthritis Day is observed on October 12th every year

Published: 12th October 2021 06:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th October 2021 06:38 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: Arthritis, the inflammation of joints, is familiar to laymen. The manifestation of arthritis can be varied. Patients may experience pain, swelling, stiffness or restriction of movements. There also might be redness or a rise in temperature localised in problematic areas.  Unexplained tiredness, early morning stiffness, fever, loss of appetite and decreased sleep are other indicators. These symptoms can be experienced either individually or in various combinations.  

Arthritis is more a symptomatic indication of another ailment. Over 150 diseases can hide behind symptoms of arthritis. A few such significant syndromes are juvenile idiopathic arthritis(JIA), rheumatoid arthritis(RA), psoriatic arthritis(PsA), systemic lupus erythematosus(SLE) and gout, osteoarthritis(OA).

The idea that arthritis mostly affects elderly people has now been corrected. Age is no barrier to this condition. Babies who are just six months old, or people who are 80 are equally susceptible.  Women are more prone to develop these diseases but some specific conditions like gout and spondyloarthritis in men could trigger arthritis. Smokers tend to experience stronger symptoms.  

These diseases are not confined to joints but can affect any organ including the eyes, skin, kidney, lungs, brain etc. Sometimes the disease originates in an organ and the joints may be involved only secondarily. A typical example of this is the  SLE, where the kidney or skin or brain may be affected first.  

Identification
Arthritis diagnosis involves blood tests, x-rays, scans as well as biopsies. Certain diseases like RA, PsA and ankylosing spondylitis cause permanent damage and disability. Treatments aim to maintain the functionality of the joints.  

A common misconception is that steroids and painkillers are the only treatment for these diseases in modern medicine. But a group of medicines called Disease-Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs), when used in combination with periodic monitoring, can be effective. Good lifestyle habits healthy diet, regular exercise, adequate rest, abstinence from smoking and alcohol can also help alongside medical intervention. 

Know arthritis
Spreading awareness can create miracles. If you are reading this, and if you know someone with arthritis, make sure they realise what can be done for them. Delaying diagnosis and treatment can stop a patient from living a normal life. Multiple organ dysfunction or multiple joint damages might have already set in by the time they decide to get treated. These patients might already be in a wheelchair or on a trolley. So time is key, and this needs to be understood by all patients.

Got health concerns you want to share with a doctor? Are you looking for credible answers regarding symptoms, medicines or lifestyle disorders? Write to us on cityexpresskoc@newindianexpress.com, and we will get healthcare professionals to answer them.



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