Arthritis is a relatively common group of conditions involving damage to the joints of the body. Arthritis causes pain, stiffness, restricted movement of joints, inflammation and swelling and warmth / redness of the skin over the joint.
Arthritis affects both men and women and can affect people of all ages, including children. It is not clear what causes arthritis and there is no cure at present. However, there is plenty you can do to manage your condition and lead a full and active life.
Two of the most common forms of arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis - Osteoarthritis develops when changes in cartilage (soft tissue that protects the bone surface) occur that affect how the joint work. The most frequently affected joints are hands / spine / knees / hips. There is no cure for osteoarthritis however medication can relieve pain and inflammation and in severe cases replacement surgery may be considered for weight bearing joints such as knees and hips.
- Rheumatoid arthritis - Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease, mainly affecting joints and tendons. Usually inflammation is the body’s way of healing however with rheumatoid arthritis the immune system starts to attack the body instead of defending it. Over time joints may become permanently damaged and stop working properly, causing a reduction in movement and the breakdown of bone and cartilage. There is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis however medication can relieve pain and inflammation and in severe cases replacement surgery may be considered.
Pain serves a very valuable purpose in our lives. Pain signals to us that something is wrong and motivates us to do something to help it.
Acute Pain, where the pain has a sudden onset and may last for a few hours or days. However once the underlying cause is treated this type of pain disappears. The primary goal of acute pain is to diagnose the source and remove it.
Whereas, Chronic Pain often starts suddenly like acute pain but continues beyond the normal time expected for resolution of the problem or it persists or recurs for various other reasons. In chronic pain the emphasis is on minimising the pain and maximising the person’s functioning.
Pain management must be tailored to the person as it may involve a combination of medication and natural therapies. Complementary therapies, sometimes known as alternative therapies or holistic therapies, work with medication and not as a substitute for it.
Complementary therapies include – yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, diet & nutrition, herbal medicines and tai chi. For details of local groups in your area click on the Practical Help page.
The Clinic for Arthritis Patients in Remission on the Internet (CAPRI) has been set up in recognition of the success of treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis has improved dramatically due to earlier diagnosis and new therapies. As a result of these improvements many patients are able to resume activities and return to full time employment. The CAPRI website was developed to support people with Arthritis who were in remission and not likely to benefit from frequent routine visits to the Rheumatology OPD. The website includes an Arthritis monitoring tool called Disease Activity Score at 28 Joints (DAS28) as well as “Tutorials” to show you how to detect swelling and tenderness of your joints. Please click on the link below to access the site.
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