Arthritis is a generic term used to identify joint inflammation, pain and swelling. Today arthritis affects as many as 350 million people worldwide. Arthritis impacts people irrespective of their age, race or gender (though it is known to affect women more frequently). It mostly affects the joints, which are parts in the body where two bones meet. The cartilages in the joints get inflamed, causing swelling , redness and severe pain. It can make the affected joints immovable and stiff. Arthritis in some cases may affect the body’s immunity system causing inflammation in the heart, kidneys, eyes, lungs as well as skin.

Type of Arthritis

As arthritis affects the joints, there are over a 100 types of arthritis identified, and still being found. Yet broadly it is classified as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis found, which is caused by the wear and tear to the cartilages between the bones. This exposes the bones to rub against each other causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation caused due to an overactive immune system. The normal immune system produces inflammation during infections to help fight the disease. But when a person suffers from rheumatoid arthritis the system cause excess inflammation leading to erosion in joints and inflammation in internal organs like heart, eyes etc. There are further classifications of arthritis like inflammatory arthritis(rheumatoid arthritis), degenerative or mechanical arthritis (osteoarthritis), Soft tissue or musculoskeletal pain (affects the muscles or soft tissue around the bones) , infectious arthritis (inflammation cause by a bacterium, virus or fungus) and metabolic arthritis (eg: Gout which causes inflammation in joints due to buildup of uric acid crystals in joints).

Identifying Arthritis (Symptoms of Arthritis)

Arthritis being a joint inflammatory disease, has always been associated with any discomfort in the joints. It would be accompanied with : Redness in the joints Swelling in the joints Joints would become tender to touch Joints are warm Stiffness in the joints , reducing movement General weakness The range of motion in the affected joints are lost The joints feel locked. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause loss of appetite, decrease in RBC count and slight fever.

Diagnosing Arthritis

If you are experiencing acute symptoms it is best to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist. For mild symptoms a visit to the physician can get you an assessment of how severe it is. A physical examination can determine the next course of action.

Treating Arthritis

Arthritis in general is an inflammatory disease and hence the normal course would be taking anti inflammatory drugs or pain relief medication. Ayurveda provides age old traditional medication for treating arthritis. Arthritis in ayurveda is defined as the accumulation of toxins in the body (joints) due to aggravated Vata along with a weak digestive system. Ayurveda treats the root cause and has a wide range of products for pain relief based on body type and helps cleanse the system, thereby strengthening the digestive system. It also provides treatments for rheumatoid arthritis, helping bring balance to the system and thus reducing inflammation.

Prevention

Some factors such as increasing age or family history can cause arthritis and these cannot be prevented. But staying active, maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding repetitive movements of the joints can helps prevent arthritis to a great extent. Maintaining a healthy weight also helps keep arthritis away. Protect the joints, avoid injuries and have regular checkups to keep arthritis at bay.