What is Arthritis?

Arthritis doesn’t refer to just a single condition with a distinct set of symptoms, causes, and treatments; instead, it describes well over 100 different related diseases with similar symptoms. While it is most often associated with older patients, it can affect younger individuals as well. Fortunately, there are many available treatments to relieve arthritis discomfort.  

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What Causes Arthritis?

Most cases of arthritis fall into one of two primary types: osteoarthritis (which causes the breakdown of the cartilage that caps the bones and pads the joints) and rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disease which primarily targets the synovium, which lines the joints). Arthritis can also arise due to bodily acidity and inflammation as a primary or secondary symptom of any number of diseases, infections, and disorders. 

Knowing the Signs of Arthritis

Arthritis is defined by a set of symptoms more so than the specifics of what causes them. It’s important to note that the following are not the only potential symptoms of arthritis, as the inflammation of tissues can have far-reaching effects on the body. Reactive arthritis, for example, is also associated with eye inflammation and skin ulcers, while arthritis affecting neck joints can lead to chronic headaches. That said, the most common symptoms include, but are not limited to the following:

Key Symptoms of Arthritis

  • Pain: Arthritic joints can be painful to move, may ache dully, or may merely feel vaguely uncomfortable in a way you can’t quite place.
  • Stiffness: Even in the absence of pain, arthritis can lead to stiffness in the affected joint due to damaged tissues, swelling, and other effects of inflammation.
  • Swelling: Simple swelling of the joints is one of the first symptoms many arthritis sufferers notice, even before pain.
  • Joint instability: Instability in the joint also points to damage from arthritis; that is, joints that move in ways they should not.
  • Limited range of motion: Arthritic joints often lose part of their range of motion. This can be due to pain, joint instability, bone abnormalities due to prolonged osteoarthritis, etc.
  • Redness: Some forms of arthritis cause redness in the surrounding skin.
  • Warmth: Inflammation of joints often causes the tissues to be warm to the touch (similar to infected tissue).
  • Muscle weakness: Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, is strongly associated with muscle weakness near the affected joints.

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Risk Factors and Causes

Different forms of arthritis have different root causes, and accordingly have different risk factors. Despite the wide range of potential causes, however, we can associate certain risk factors with an overall increase in the likelihood that one may end up suffering one or more forms of arthritis:

Family History

If members of your family experience a form of arthritis — even one with a physical component like osteoarthritis — you are more likely to suffer from it yourself.

Age 

Most forms of arthritis become more likely to develop with age. Even those with a genetic component may only reach clinical significance later in life.

Gender

Your gender influences your likelihood of developing various forms of arthritis. Although women are more likely to develop some form of arthritis, various forms are much more common in men.

Weight 

Obesity increases the likelihood of developing arthritis, even in joints which aren’t affected by increased wear and tear with increased weight. Symptoms will be far more pronounced in lower body joints, i.e., each pound of body weight exerts four more pounds of pressure on your knees when walking.

Previous Injury 

Joints that have been previously injured are significantly more likely to develop symptoms of arthritis or present with more severe symptoms than other joints in your body.

Inflammatory Illness

Any inflammatory illness (even those not necessarily associated with your joints) increase the likelihood of developing arthritis. For example, one in three patients with inflammatory bowel disease suffer from arthritis.

Don’t Wait for Diagnosis

The key to managing arthritis is early recognition of the condition. The sooner you identify the problem—and the specific form of arthritis—the better you’ll be able to mitigate and minimize ongoing damage to your joints.

Arthritis Treatment at Foot & Ankle Specialty Group

For in-office arthritis treatment, Foot & Ankle Specialty Group is your ideal choice. Led by Dr. Salma Aziz, D.P.M, our modern, family-friendly medical practice has built our reputation on time-tested practices. She spends a lot of quality time with a patient going over all their concerns, which is unusual in today’s doctoring. (Think 30 minutes versus five minutes). We are a nurturing female doctor group with a mission to get our patients back to their activities. We follow up with care, and we have a strong team of specialists which include Dr. Aziz, Dr. Petrina Yokay, and Dr. Jessica Arneson.

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