Arthritis

Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints.Treatments have improved greatly in recent years and, for many types of arthritis, there’s a clear benefit in starting treatment at an early stage

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints throughout the body. It can cause swelling, pain and stiffness. It may affect a single joint or many joints at any given time. Approximately 20-25% of the population will suffer from one type of arthritis.

There are several types of arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions and each one affects the body in different ways. Some of the most common types of arthritis are: osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia and lupus. Here we will discuss the two most common types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis mainly affects the knees, hands, hip and back. Osteoarthritis is more common in women and affects people over the age of 45. Being overweight increases the chances of developing osteoarthritis and may make symptoms worse. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, keeping active will help reduce excess weight and therefore relieve symptoms. Regular exercise will keep the muscles around the joints strong and therefore stabilise the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition, meaning that our own immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy tissues, leading to inflammation. This inflammation can cause permanent damage to a joint, therefore it is important to be assessed by a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms: swollen and tender joints, swelling and stiffness in the morning which lasts for more than an hour and/or severe tiredness. Rheumatoid arthritis usually begins by affecting the small joints in the hands or feet and affects joint on both sides of the body at the same time. It can affect both men and women and begins between the ages of 40 – 60. Management includes taking disease modifying antirheumatic drugs which are prescribed by a rheumatologist.

As arthritis can affect mobility in both hands and feet, one may not be able to care for their feet. Podiatrists are trained to safely cut someone’s toenails, remove corns and hard skin which are caused by increased pressure and rubbing on shoes and to advise patients on the most appropriate shoe. Wearing the correct type and size of shoes will prevent increased pressure on deformed joints – therefore reducing the occurrence of corns and callus. Wherever necessary, a podiatrist will assess the walking pattern of a patient and provide the appropriate insole which will further support the foot and reduce the possibility of deformity.

In musculoskeletal conditions we are not able to stop the progression of the disease. We are however able to reduce pain and so the patient will be able to carry out his daily tasks and lead a better lifestyle.