Arthritis

Arthritis is a disorder that causes pain and inflammation in one or more joints. There are many forms of arthritis with different clinical presentations, causes and management. The most common types of arthritis include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout

Who can get Arthritis?

Males and females which includes people of all ages.

Causes of Arthritis

The cause of the arthritis is usually associated with the type of arthritis present and your current health profile. If you have one or more risk factors present then it increases your chances of having arthritis.

Risk Factors include:

AGE: The risk of developing arthritis increases with age, example Osteoarthritis.

GENDER: Some types of arthritis are most common in females such as osteoarthritis and other forms are most common in males, example gout.

FAMILY HISTORY: Some forms of arthritis have a genetic component and as a result it can be inherited, however it is not necessary that you will suffer from arthritis if you have a family history of the condition. Other factors such as lifestyle, injuries and activity levels also play a role.

LIFESTYLE FACTORS AND DIET: A dietary change or increase in alcohol consumption can be a precipitating factor, such as with gout. Obesity or increased body weight puts more stress on weight bearing joints and is a risk factor for arthritis.

INCREASED WEIGHT: This leads to an increase in the wear and tear of joints due to an increased load which is a predisposing factor in some forms of arthritis.

OCCUPATION: Certain occupations that involve repetitive movements and bad posture can contribute to the development of arthritis.

INJURIES: Arthritis may develop in an injured joint in some cases.

INFECTION: Some infections can affect joints and result in arthritis.

MEDICAL CONDITION: Sometimes arthritis may be related to an existing medical condition. For example, psoriatic arthritis may occur in an individual that have psoriasis. In other instances it can be auto-immune, or linked to organ function.

INCREASE IN STRESS/LOAD/ TENSION OR FRICTION APPLIED TO A JOINT OVER TIME: External factors such as ill- fitting footwear can alter the pressure and stress applied to a joint and in the long term, contribute to the development of joint pain and some form of arthritis.

Signs & Symptoms include:

Each form of arthritis has signs and symptoms that are specific to that type of arthritis and therefore it is always a good idea to visit your Podiatrist/Doctor for a check-up to ensure correct diagnosis and appropriate management thereof.

  • Joint pain
  • Joint tenderness
  • Crepitus: Creaking noise/grating sensation upon movement of the affected joint.
  • Limited joint function with decreased range of motion at the affected joint.
  • Joint inflammation which is often marked by stiffness, swelling, redness and pain.
  • Joint weakness and decrease in strength
  • Joint Gelling: pain and stiffness that occurs at a joint upon activity after a period of rest, which eases in a few minutes after movement.
  • Locking of the joint or “giving way”
  • Limping

Symptoms that are specific to certain types of arthritis can include malaise, fever, weight loss and tiredness.

Diagnosis of Arthritis

  • Based on a good thorough history taking, therefore your healthcare professional will ask you many questions to get enough information that can aid in diagnosis.
  • A good physical examination
  • Special tests which can include urine analysis, blood tests, X rays, joint fluid analysis etc.

Treatment

The treatment is very specifically related to the type of arthritis present. Appropriate referral to a Rheumatologist will be done if necessary.