The Two Main Types Of Arthritis And A Western Medical Point of View.
Arthritis Treatment – Part One
In this blog post, we are going to focus on two of the most common types of arthritis, namely osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, while also looking at the different approaches to diagnosis and treatment from a Western or conventional medical viewpoint.
Of the most common complaints and symptoms that occur when it comes to arthritis, pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints is the top of the list. The pain occurs in a variety of places but the most regularly affected areas are the feet, wrists, fingers, ankles, hips and spine amongst others.
It needn’t be full-blown arthritis for us to start experiencing the symptoms of discomfort. Often mild to begin with, we have the tendency to dismiss the painful symptoms as general wear and tear on our bodies, over-exercise or just the fact that we are getting older. Consequently, this causes us not to do anything about the pain until it’s become a constant feature in our daily lives, which makes the symptoms harder to treat and the underlying issue has definitely worsened.
The word Arthritis is taken from the Greek word Arthron, which means joint. When it comes to Arthritis, the inflammation it causes can affect a single joint or multiple joints, dependant on the severeness of the condition, the type of arthritis it is and whether it’s become chronic or not.
There are many different types of Arthritis, such as Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Gout and Psoriatic arthritis.
From a Western point of view, the development of Osteoarthritis is a result of bodily wear and tear and physical stress on the joint or joints in question. This could be a result of excess weight, injury, some form of neuromuscular malfunction or an infection of some type.
The first thing to happen is the degeneration of the joints cartilage, meaning the surface areas of the bones are less protected and start to become damaged. This is exceedingly painful and can be or is accompanied by a stiffness or even locking/ seizing up of the joint.
On the other hand, Rheumatoid arthritis is a disorder that results in systemic inflammation affecting the joint, and in certain circumstances, affecting other tissues and organs that surround the joint. It causes swelling and an inflammation of the capsule that surrounds the joint, resulting in fibrous tissue developing and an excess synovial fluid within the joint capsule. In the long term, this can result in the destruction of the joints cartilage or even fusion of the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis can sometimes result in an inflammation of the lungs, the membranes around the heart, the whites of the eyes and the membranes of the lungs. While it’s considered to be a systemic Autoimmune Disease, the exact cause of Rheumatoid arthritis is still unknown.
According to the Western medical school of thought, no form of arthritis has any known cure, and treatments go about minimizing the symptoms or modifying the process of the disease. The usual route for this is through the use pain management medication and other drugs that are anti-inflammatory, such as steroids like cortisone, administered as injections or orally, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), and specifically for rheumatoid arthritis,disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or DMARDS.
Used alone or in combination, DMARDs are drugs that try to prevent degenerative tissue changes, some of the better-known brands of these include Hydroxychloroquine and Methotrexate.
Apart from the use of pharmaceuticals, other forms of therapies include exercise, physical therapy and weight control which are recommended based on the type of arthritis.
Be sure to read our follow-on blog: Arthritis Treatment – Part Two – An Ayurvedic Approach