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10 things you must know about arthritis

Dr. Lala .A.

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1. Arthritis is a loose term generally used to describe disorders of the joint. It is coined from the Greek words arthro (which means joint) and itis (which means inflammation or swelling).
2. There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Common types are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout. Others include; septic arthritis, juvenile arthritis, reactive arthritis, viral arthritis.
3. Arthritis is common and the number of cases diagnosed yearly is increasing. It is estimated that more than 2.5 million Nigerians have arthritis and this value is likely to be grossly underestimated.
In 2013, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 52.5 million Americans (about 23% of her population) suffer from arthritis and this number is expected to rise to 67 million by 2030. It is estimated that in the U.S, more than 100 billion dollars is lost yearly due to absenteeism from disability caused by arthritis and also treatment of arthritis.
4. Common symptoms of arthritis include; joint pain and swelling, stiffness of the joint, muscle pain, reduced movement, poor sleep (due to pain), weight loss, numerous disabilities including reduced mobility. Arthritis is a common reason that people miss work and can result in a decreased quality of life.
5. In Rheumatoid arthritis, pain is generally worse in the morning and associated with stiffness while the pain in Osteoarthritis tends to be worse after exercise
6. Positive family history, increasing age, females, obesity, previous joint injury are risk factors for developing arthritis. However, arthritis does not affect just the elderly. Children also have arthritis.
7. Diseases like diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hyperparathyroidism, hyperlipidaemia, hepatitis, cancers and HIV can cause arthritis due to their effect on the joints.
8. Examination of the joints, Blood tests which include; Erthrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR), antinuclear antibodies (ANA), rheumatoid factor (RF), uric acid level, antistreptolysin O (ASO) titre and xrays of the affected joints are used to determine if an individual has arthritis.
9. Treatment of arthritis include resting the joint and alternating between applying ice and heat, exercise, weight loss, pain medications such as ibuprofen and paracetamol (acetaminophen), topical creams, immune modulating drugs and surgery (joint repair, joint fusion, replacement therapy) In some a joint replacement may be useful.

 

 

 

10. Monoarthritis means athritis affecting one joint, polyarthritis is joint pain involving several (more than 5 at a time) joints.

 

 

Glossary
Hyperthyroidism: when the thyroid gland – located at the front of the neck, produces excess thyroid hormone.
Hypothyroidism: when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone.
Hyperparathyroidism: is when the body produces excess parathyroid hormone – which is responsible for removing calcium from the bones and maintaining the amount of calcium in the blood. Thus, hyperparathroidism causes reduced calcium in the bone which results in weakened bones.
Hyperlipidaemia means there is too much fat in the blood. Too much fat can cause several diseases like diabetes, hypertension, stroke, etc.

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Dr. Lala .A. is a graduate of University of Ilorin who also holds a Diploma in Computer Engineering. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who aspires to be a plastic surgeon involved in creating awareness about women's rights and responsibilities and also training would be surgeons. She is a proud member of various reputable bodies including the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI). She loves to read, write, sleep and play the drums in her spare time.