The definitive symptom of arthritis is pain, though the pattern and intensity can vary based on which type a patient is afflicted with. While certain types of arthritis cause consistent dull pain, others cause pain that is considerably worse in the morning than in the evening. Some patients deal with the pain by moving around less or by limping, thus preventing the symptoms but not fixing the problem. Other common symptoms of arthritis include swelling, stiffness and loss of movement in the affected joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a type of arthritis that develops over a long period of time. This condition can be identified through blood tests and X-Rays, as well as a full evaluation of symptoms. The formation of rheumatoid nodules under the skin is usually indicative of RA, which tends to form over bony processes and frequently stressed joints. Although less frequent, RA can affect other parts of the body and cause subtle inflammation of the aforementioned nodules, lungs, sclera, pericardium and other internal tissue. The disease can progress faster or slower depending on certain personal autoimmune factors. Although there is no known cause or cure for RA, there are many treatments available to both control the symptoms and considerably slow the progression of the disease. The earlier RA is detected, the more effective these treatments are. Proper exercise and weight control are often suggested treatments, along with anti-inflammatory agents and Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs).
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), which develops as the cartilage protecting the bones of a joint wears down over time from various traumatic activities. OA is commonly known as the "wear and tear" disease because it occurs much more frequently in older patients. This is because the condition requires a good deal of time to develop, and usually does not occur until a patient is well past their 30s, unless involved in highly competitive athletics. As the cartilage is worn down, the subchondral bone becomes exposed, causing the body to react in a regenerative manner. However, the new bone produced is not functional because it replaces the space vacated by the cartilage. As the body keeps trying to heal itself, the condition worsens as more bone is produced in the wrong places, leading to more friction and wear and creating an unending cycle. Treatments for OA vary from simple bed rest, appropriate exercise and weight control, to medicinal solutions such as NSAIDs, Paracetamol or ibuprofen.