How to Treat Arthritis Generally, arthritis refers to the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. The term arthritis is actually used to cover over 100 conditions that impact the joints and the tissues around the joints of the body. When it comes to knowing how to treat arthritis, the options can differ between the various types, which we will explain. Overall, arthritis can be uncomfortable. Pain and inflammation may come and go. Individuals with arthritis can also experience flare-ups at certain times. This condition can make it difficult to move or participate in regular activities. However, for the most common types of arthritis, there are treatment options available. In this article, we are going to explore the most common types of arthritis, their symptoms and their treatments. 4 Most Common Types of Arthritis The four most common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), psoriatic arthritis and gout. In the following sections, we examine these arthritic conditions in more detail. 1. Rheumatoid Arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis, RA, is technically an autoimmune condition. This type of arthritis happens when a person’s own immune system attacks healthy cells. This creates pain and inflammation at the joints, commonly impacting the hands, wrists and knees. However, RA can also impact various systems throughout the body, such as the skin, heart, lungs, eyes and blood vessels. RA Symptoms Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis typically include: Tender, warm and inflamed joints. Joint stiffness, fatigue. Fever. Loss of appetite. In most cases, symptoms happen to both sides of the body. These symptoms may further vary in their severity and involve flare-up periods and remission periods. RA Treatment Options Treatment frequently involves medications to help reduce inflammation, as well as physical therapy and occupational therapy to help an individual continue to perform their daily tasks with as much ease as possible. Common medications include NSAIDs, steroids and DMARDs. 2. Osteoarthritis (OA) Osteoarthritis, OA, is the most common type of arthritis. Often referred to as the wear-and-tear arthritis, OA happens as the cartilage at the end of the bones wears down over time. This usually happens to the knees, hips, hands and spine. While it is impossible to reverse the damage caused by osteoarthritis, there are various options to help manage it and reduce the associated symptoms. Osteoarthritis Symptoms Typically, OA develops gradually over time. Symptoms may include: Painful joints. Stiff joints. Tender joints. Decreased range of motion and flexibility. Grating sensations. Swelling. Bone spurs. Eventually, these symptoms become worse and worse, making it difficult to perform one’s regular activities and daily tasks. OA Treatment Options OA treatment usually involves a combination of methods. Depending on your circumstances, treatment may include a weight loss regime, increased physical activity and strengthening of the areas and muscles around affected joints. Treatment may also consist of medications, physical therapy and supportive devices. In severe phases of osteoarthritis, your doctor may recommend a hip or knee replacement. [youmaylike] 3. Psoriatic Arthritis Psoriatic arthritis happens in individuals who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a condition that leads to patchy red and scaly skin. Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis is when the body’s own immune system attacks healthy cells, causing damage, pain and inflammation at the joints. This type of arthritis most commonly affects the toes, fingers, knees, hips and elbows. Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are also similar to rheumatoid arthritis, including: Swollen fingers and toes. Painful joints that are warm to touch. Lower back pain. Foot pain. Nail alterations. Eye inflammation. Although rare, some individuals with psoriatic arthritis may further develop arthritis mutilans, which can destroy the small bones in the hands and feet. Psoriatic Arthritis Treatment Options Similar to other types of arthritis, there is no cure. Thus, treatment also focuses on controlling and managing the associated symptoms to maintain a person’s quality of life. Medications, such as NSAIDs, DMARDs and more may be used. Your doctor may further recommend steroidal injections or joint replacement surgery. Additionally, physical therapy and occupational therapy can help improve strength and flexibility and help you lead a relatively normal life. 4. Gout Gout is a type of arthritis that occurs quite suddenly. A gout attack usually impacts one joint at a time, with some individuals claiming it feels as though the joint is on fire. Most often, it impacts the big toe, with flare-ups lasting a few days or weeks. Gout Symptoms Common gout symptoms include: Intense joint pain (most common in the big toe, knees, ankles, elbow, fingers and wrist). Inflammation of the joint. Redness at the joint. Reduced range of motion. Gout is frequently due to the build-up of urate crystals accumulating at the joint, leading to the above symptoms. Gout Treatment Options Usually, doctors prescribe medications to treat gout. These may include NSAIDs, colchicine, corticosteroids, or medications blocking uric acid production or helping with uric acid removal. For those who experience gout attacks, it is further recommended to drink plenty of healthy beverages and avoid alcohol and sweetened drinks. Avoiding foods with purines, such as red meat and organ meats, can also help prevent flare-ups. Lastly, regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle can help strengthen your joints, reducing gout incidences.
What is Macular Degeneration?
Macular degeneration is an eye disease, also known as age-related macular degeneration (AMD or ARMD). This condition can lead to loss of vision, especially for those over 60 years old. The disease is characterized by the thinning of the macular, a subsection of the retina, situated at the back layer of the eye and transmits what the eyes see in the brain through the optic nerve.
There are two types of AMD: wet macular degeneration and dry macular degeneration. Dry macular degeneration is characterized by yellow deposits, also known as drusen, in the macula. The drusen become bigger, increase in number as the disease advances, and then they begin to distort and blur your vision. The light sensitive cells in your macular thin out and die. As the disease progresses, you may develop a blind spot at the center of your vision until you lose central vision.
Wet macular degeneration is characterized by the growth of blood vessels form under the macula. The blood vessels leak blood and other fluids into your retina. This distorts your vision and causes straight lines to look bent. Eventually, the bleeding blood vessels scar, and cause a permanent loss of central vision.
90% of the people with AMD have the dry form even though, in some cases, it develops into the wet form.
Macular degeneration usually occurs progressively. Most patients with AMD have no pain, which means the disease is often caught at an advanced stage, having affected both eyes.
Common symptoms can include the following:
- Blurry and dark sections at the center of your vision
- Difficulty recognizing faces
- Distorted visions are causing wrong color perception and objects to appear bent or deformed
- An increasing need for light when reading and increased blurriness of printed text
- Difficulty visually adjusting when you move from a well-lit area to one that’s dimly lit
There are three stages of macular degeneration as follows:
- Early AMD: There is no vision loss. This stage is diagnosed in people with AMD risk factors. Early AMD is characterized by yellow deposit below the retina.
- Intermediate AMD: At this stage, there may be noticeable color changes in the retina, and the yellow deposits beneath it are larger than those in the early stage.
- Late AMD: With late AMD, the patient experiences noticeable vision loss.
Some of the risk factors for macular degeneration include:
- Age: As the name suggests, age is the most significant risk factor for AMD.
- Genetics: People with a family history of AMD are likely to also get it.
- Sex: Women are at a greater risk for developing macular degeneration compared to men.
- Smoking: Smoking and other poor lifestyle choices (such as having high cholesterol, being obese, and consuming saturated fats) can double your risk of developing macular degeneration.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Regular eye tests are necessary to diagnose AMD. The presence of drusen or pigment clumping beneath the retina is an indication of the disease.
The doctor may also show you an Amsler grid to look at. If any of the lines appear wavy, then it can indicate macular degeneration.
If the cause of your AMD is age-related, then the doctor may carry out an angiography or an Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) procedure.
With an angiography, the doctor injects dye into a vein in your arm. As the dye reaches and flows through your retina, the doctor uses special equipment to take photographs. The photos will show any new vessels or vessels leaking blood into the macula. With the OCT procedure, the doctor can make the same observations without the use of dye.
Treatment and Management Options
Macular degeneration has no cure. However, there are a few measures you can take to mitigate the progression of the disease. One key step you can take is avoiding smoking, and make sure you have a healthy diet and exercise. You could also protect your eyes from ultra-violet light.
Treatment options for patients may include the following:
- Medications: Drugs prescribed may include ranibizumab (Lucentis), pegaptanib (Macugen), Aflibercept (Eylea), and bevacizumab (Avastin). These are anti-angiogenesis drugs used to inhibit the creation of blood vessels and leaking from the vessels beneath the retina. These drugs are particularly useful for wet macular degeneration and can restore the sight of the patients. However, the patient must take the treatment every time the blood vessels re-occur.
- Laser therapy: This procedure helps destroy abnormal blood vessel growth.
- Photodynamic laser therapy: With this procedure, a doctor injects a light-sensitive drug called verteporfin (Visudyne) into the blood, which is then absorbed into the damaging blood vessels. The doctor then shines a laser into your eye, which destroyed the medication and subsequently damaging the vessels.
- Low vision aids: These are electronic lenses that enlarge the images of things near your vision.
The type of treatment you receive will be based on your individual needs. Always be sure to speak with your doctor if you have questions or concerns, and they will help you create the best treatment plan to help manage your symptoms.