Patient Education

What is arthritis?

Arthritis in literally means inflammation of a joint and generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Cartilage is a padding that absorbs stress. The proportion of cartilage damage and synovial inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis. Early stage pain is due to inflammation. In further stages, when the cartilage is worn away, most part of the pain comes from the mechanical friction of raw bones rubbing on each other.

The few most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and traumatic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, is one of the condition which is the result of either excessive wear/abuse of the joint when you were younger, trauma to the knee in the past or a resection of a torn cartilage years ago, or aging. The smooth gliding surface of the joint, the cushioning cartilage layer, is worn away. This condition become worse when there is increase in weight and imperfect alignment of the weight-bearing axis like knocked knees or pitched toes.

Rheumatoid arthritis, is caused due to dysfunction of the immune system whereby a significant inflammation affects the capsule lining which makes the joint fluid. Above given reasons result to a slow destruction of the cushioning cartilage layer.

Post Traumatic Arthritis can leads to a serious knee injury. knee fracture or severe tears of the knees ligaments may damage the articular cartilage over time, results knee pain and limiting knee function.

Predisposing factors to Osteoarthritis of hip.

Some conditions may predispose the hip to osteoarthritis,

  • It affects people when they get older and particularly affects joints that have to take a lot of stresses and strains.
  • A previous fracture that involved the hip.
  • Growth abnormalities of the hip (such as a shallow socket) may result to premature arthritis.
  • Some childhood hip problems can result to hip arthritis on later stages (for example, a type of childhood hip fracture known as a Slipped Epiphysis; also Legg-Perthes Disease).
  • Inactive lifestyle: Obesity (overweight) Your weight is one of the most important link between diet and arthritis, as being overweight puts an additional burden on your hips, knees, ankles and feet. 4th Sunday – Jalandhar

Predisposing factors to Osteoarthritis of Knee.

Abnormalities of knee joint function results from fractures of the knee, torn cartilage and torn ligaments may lead to degeneration even after many years of the injury. The mechanical abnormality leads to excessive wear and tear – just like the out-of-balance tire that wears out too soon on your car.

What are the symptoms of osteoarthritis?

The most common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • painful joints, that usually worsen with exercise or repetitive use
  • creaking, pain and stiffness that restrict movement and occasionally disrupt sleep
  • swelling of the affected joint
  • weakened muscles surrounding the affected joint, due to disuse
  • joint deformitya formation of hard bony enlargements for example, of the small joints of the fingers. Bony enlargement of the small joint at the end of the fingers is called a Heberden’s node. Bony enlargement of the middle joint of the finger is called a Bouchard’s node. Osteoarthritis of the joint at the base of the big toes leads to the formation of a bunion.

How can a doctor diagnose arthritis?

Doctors diagnose arthritis with a medical history of patient , physical exam of patient and x-rays of the hip.

What you can do?
  • Consult a doctor to determine the type of arthritis you have.
  • Rest the joint until the pain subsides to prevent further inflammation.
  • To have ease from the pain or stiffness of the joint, apply heat on the joint for about 15 minutes Once or twice a day using a hot water bottle, towel or an infrared lamp.
  • Take painkillers or anti-inflammatories, as recommended by your doctor.
  • If you are overweight, try to cut down weight to lighten the load on weight-bearing joints.
  • Do regular exercise.

What your doctor can do for you?

As such there is no cure for arthritis, so beware of ‘miracle cures’. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine. He/she may recommend occupational therapy or physiotherapy, which includes exercises and heat treatment. In critical cases, surgery may be suggested, such as a hip or knee replacement. Type of surgery will depends on your age and severity of the disease. In the elderly with severe arthritis, joint replacement can give good results.

Treatment options

Initial treatment of osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is quite conservative, consist resting , avoidance of vigorous weight bearing activities, and the use of non-narcotic analgesic and or anti inflammatory medications. With worsening symptoms a cane or a knee brace may be helpful. For more critical symptoms, an injection of cortisone into the joint is frequently advised and can be quite helpful.
When all conservative measures have been exhausted and are no longer helpful, and the arthritis has become disabling, then surgery could be recommended.

Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include following :

  • Regular exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
  • Many different medications are used to control pain, including corticosteroids and NSAIDs. Glucocorticoids injected into joints that are inflamed and not responsive to NSAIDS. For mild pain without inflammation, acetaminophen may be used.
  • Heat/cold therapy for temporary pain reliefv
  • Joint protection to prevent strain or stress on painful joints
  • Surgery (sometimes) to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints
  • Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight-bearing joints