What are the symptoms and treatment for Arthritis ?

The world would be celebrating yet another day known as World Arthritis Day on October 12. On this day, this resource discusses , causes and of arthritis. It also attempts to explain the rationale behind celebrating this Day along with suggesting ways to live better with arthritis.

Arthritis is one of the wide spread problems being faced throughout the world today and is known to be a leading cause of disability. In the United States alone over 49 million people are reported to be suffering from some form of arthritis. Women are known to be more prone to arthritis and 40% of the patients are found obese. In view of the fact that it develops slowly majority of people do not experience early symptoms till it affects them with severity.

What is Arthritis?

Human body has many joints where two bones meet. Arthritis is a form of joint disorder involving inflammation of one or more joints in the body.

Symptoms of Arthritis:

Two of the most common symptoms of arthritis are pain or swelling in a joint. It can also appear by way of redness of the skin around a joint or reduction in ability to move that particular joint limiting its range of motion.

Many people feel it in the form of warmth around the joint and some experience it more in the morning in the form of stiffness.

The most commonly joints affected by arthritis are knees, hips and hands. However, other joints like shoulders can also be affected.

In the event of experiencing difficulty in walking, climbing stairs or slopes and lifting objects one should get examined for arthritis. If there is difficulty in grasping and holding objects of daily use like pencil, knife, needle, one could expect it due to arthritis affecting fingers and hand joint.

How is Arthritis caused?

In normal conditions our joints move smoothly. It is because our joints are protected by cartilage. In addition to protection, the cartilage helps to absorb shocks to joints which we face when pressure is asserted say while walking or running. If there is breakdown of cartilage and its cushioning affect deteriorates, then the bones are likely to rub together which may cause pain, stiffness or swelling resulting in arthritis.

There could be various reasons for this inflammation varying from infection due to bacteria or virus, wear and tear of joints which happens as we go older, breakage in bone or in some cases due to an autoimmune disease.

How to get Arthritis cured?

Normally the inflammation may go with the removal of cause or with treatment but at times it does not go. In that case it becomes a chronic condition of the body.

While it may not always be possible to cure underlying cause of arthritis but the treatment normally aims at providing relief by way of reduction of pain. Also further damage to the joint needs to be prevented and function of the joint may be improved.

However, an enduring solution may lie in changing lifestyle and leading active life. Activities that may provide sustainable results could include:

(a) Regular exercises which may result in reducing the pain and help in improving muscle and bone strength. Stiffness in joints may also subside with exercises. Exercises may aim at improving range of motion, endurance and toning of muscles.

(b) Physical therapy in the form of heat or ice and water therapy. One of the most popular and effective way tried out in different systems of medicine including Ayurveda is massage. In some cases splints may be required to improve the position of joints with supports.

(c) Adequate sleep, 8 to 10 hours in the night with occasional naps during the day. While doing so it is important to change positions periodically, not straining by lying in a particular position for a longer duration.

(d) Reducing stress by doing yoga or meditation.

(e) Eating a healthy diet full of vegetables and fruits, which contain vitamins and minerals in abundance, especially vitamin E.

(f) For those who are overweight and having pain in the legs and feet, reduction of weight is recommended.


In order to avoid risk of taking medicines, it is advisable that it is monitored by a qualified doctor. Anti-inflammatory (Non-steroidal) medicines like aspirin and ibuprofen are normally recommended for reduction of pain. The prolonged use of these medicines, however, is not advisable in view of the potential side effects these may have. The side effect may include adverse on heart, kidney, stomach and digestive tract.

Surgery /Arthroplasty :

Surgery may be required in certain cases for rebuilding the joint. Arthroplasty or replacement of joint may be required in certain cases.

How to live with Arthritis?

Self-management is the best way for living with arthritis. If not managed properly it can affect the daily living activities. Mobility may be affected which may have adverse impact on job performance or capacity to play for a sports person.

In the short term medication may come to the rescue of a person suffering from arthritis but as indicated in treatment part of this resource the more durable part of the solution is leading an active life with regular exercises and adequate and periodic rest. Joints must be kept moving and one has to tolerate the initial discomfort one may face in doing so. Since arthritis is also correlated with aging process, it is important that one has to remain physically active as long as possible in life. This does not necessarily mean that everybody will get it with advancing age.

Obesity being another important factor must be contained. In the case of obese knees and the hips bear the brunt of excessive weight and can result in considerable discomfort to the person.

The best cure to arthritis is to keep the body moving.

The World Arthritis Day

Arthritis and Rheumatism International established World Arthritis Day in 1996 and it is celebrated on October 12 every year. The primary aim of celebrating this Day is to

(a) To generate awareness about arthritis among general public, those who are suffering from this condition and medical community

(b) To raise the awareness level of policy makers about the burden of arthritis and the step which can be taken to ease it with a view to influence public policy

(c) To make sure that all people suffering from arthritis and their caregivers are aware about the availability of support network

In India 'awareness talks for doctors' are being arranged by the Cenre for Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases, Calicut

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