Joint Swelling and Inflammation (arthritis)

    • Brief

    • The medical term for joint inflammation or swollen joints is arthritis. It is a condition related to various joint problems. The finger knuckles, shoulder, knee, and hip joints are often affected. There are different types of arthritis, but the most common ones are:

      Osteoarthritis is a condition where the cushion between the joints of the bones becomes worn, making the two bones rub against each other. The affected joint becomes stiff and makes a sound when you move.

      Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s defences recognize bone joints as foreign objects and attack, causing damage. The affected joint is swollen and soft to the touch.

      Gouty arthritis is caused when there is too much uric acid in the body. The uric acid is deposited in the joints, leading to swelling and damage to the cushions between the bones. Parts commonly affected include the finger knuckles and toes, especially the big toe and the thumb joint.

      Treatment focuses on tackling the causes using medications, physical therapy, lifestyle modification, and surgery when necessary.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • The symptoms of arthritis include:

      • Pain in the joints.
      • Immovable joints. Your joints are stiff.
      • Swollen joints that can feel soft or hard. This comes with redness of the affected area.
      • Difficulties using of the affected joint.
    • What are the causes?

    • Although the exact cause of arthritis is not known. It can develop as a result of:

      • Injuries to the joints.
      • A weakened immune system.
      • An occupation that causes stress to the joints, examples are occupations that require standing for long time (e.g. hairdressing) and lifting heavy weights (e.g. construction).
      • You have an increased risk of developing arthritis if one of your direct relatives has it.
    • What are the things that put you at risk?

      • Arthritis affects older people more because of weakened joints.
      • You have a likelihood of developing arthritis if one or more of your direct relatives has it.
      • If you are overweight too much pressure is applied on joints like hips and knees causing pain and weakness.
      • Autoimmune diseases like lupus (SLE) can affect joints. This occurs when the body's defences recognise bone joints as foreign objects and attack, causing damage.

    • When to visit a doctor?

    • When you experience any of the symptoms listed above, you should see a healthcare provider. Arthritis worsens over time, and it is not curable. The earlier your diagnosis, the better the outcomes.

    • How to prevent?

      • Eat a healthy diet including plenty of fruits, vegetables and fresh fish. Eating less meat, especially fatty and red meats. You can take fish oil as supplements if you don't eat enough fish.
      • Maintain a healthy body weight.
      • Exercise for at least 15 minutes each day.
      • Avoid drinking alcohol.
    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care tips

      Managing arthritis mostly comes down to self-care. You should:

      • Eat healthy meals. Include oily fish in your diet or use fish oil supplements as it has anti-inflammatory properties. Avoid eating foods that are rich in uric acid, such as bacon, red meat, liver and dairy products.
      • Avoid drinking alcohol.
      • Engage in exercises frequently to strengthen the joints.
      • Look for healthy means to reduce weight by eating more fruits and vegetables and by reducing your intake of fatty foods.

      Treatment options

      Your healthcare provider will most likely prescribe:

      • Pain relievers, both over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (e.g. paracetamol, ibuprofen) or prescription medicines (e.g. codeine, prednisone).
      • Menthol creams to apply to the affected joint areas.
      • Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin may be helpful supplements for stronger joints.
      • Physical therapy will help with improved movement and flexibility of the affected joints. You may be recommended to wear braces to be able to engage in certain types of exercises or sports.
      • Occupational therapy helps with getting back to day-to-day activities. Your healthcare provider will refer you for such treatment.
      • Depending on the stage of the disease, joint replacement surgery may be the best solution.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Arthritis is a condition that ranges from mild to severe. The first step to prevention is to exercise as much as possible and to keep a healthy weight. This will help build strong muscles and bone mass that delay the onset of arthritis. If you already have arthritis, continue with exercise and a healthy diet. Discuss treatment options, such as physical therapy, with your healthcare provider and take your supplements as recommended.