Symptoms, causes, treatment of arthritis

Dr Maxwell Ademeyi. -
Dr Maxwell Ademeyi. -

Maxwell Ademeyi

ARTHRITIS REFERS to a variety of conditions that impact the joints in your body where two or more bones meet, like in your wrists, knuckles, hips, knees and ankles. This damage to the joints can cause varying degrees of pain and discomfort, affecting individuals of all age groups.

Arthritis is a condition characterised by inflammation and sensitivity in one or multiple joints. The primary indications of arthritis include joint discomfort and rigidity, which commonly increase as a person gets older.

The two most prevalent forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, which results in the deterioration of cartilage that cushions the joints, and rheumatoid arthritis, where the immune system targets joint tissues, starting with the joint lining.

Types of arthritis

Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition characterised by inflammation and damage in the joints. It occurs when the protective cartilage between bones wears away, leading to bone rubbing and causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

This can hinder daily activities like walking or climbing stairs. While it can affect any joint, it commonly impacts the knees, hips, fingers, toes, ankles and spine.


Symptoms of osteoarthritis typically develop gradually and worsen over time. These symptoms may include:

Pain: Pain in the joints may occur while moving or following physical activity.

Stiffness: Stiffness in the joints may be most apparent when first waking up or after a period of inactivity.

Tenderness: Tenderness in your joints may be felt when light pressure is applied to or near them.

Loss of flexibility: Loss or decreased flexibility may result in being unable to move your joints through their complete range of motion.

A grating sensation: The sensation of grating could be experienced when using joints, accompanied by popping or crackling sounds.

Bone spurs: Bone spurs, similar to hard lumps, can develop around joints.

Swelling in an affected joint: Swelling may occur due to inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the joint.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis

Previously referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, it is the most prevalent form of arthritis in children under 16 years old. It can result in ongoing discomfort, swelling and restricted movement in the joints.

The duration of symptoms can vary among children, with some experiencing them for a short period and others enduring them for an extended period of time.

Certain forms of juvenile idiopathic arthritis can lead to severe issues, including growth impairment, joint damage and eye inflammation. The approach to treatment involves managing pain and inflammation, enhancing functionality, and averting further harm.

The primary indicators of juvenile idiopathic arthritis include pain, swelling, stiffness, fever, swollen lymph nodes and rash. Children with this condition may exhibit symptoms like limping, joint swelling (especially in larger joints like the knee), clumsiness and fever, along with swollen lymph nodes and a rash on the trunk that worsens at evenings.


This is a prevalent type of arthritis that can impact anyone and is known for causing sudden and intense pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in one or multiple joints, typically the big toe.

During a gout episode, the affected joint may feel like it’s burning, making it challenging to even bear the touch of a light sheet.

Gout arthritis can cause prolonged discomfort even after the intense pain decreases, with joint pain lasting from several days to a few weeks.

Subsequent bouts of gout may be more severe, lasting a longer time and affecting multiple joints. The affected joints may show signs of inflammation, appearing swollen, tender, warm and red.

Symptoms of gout typically appear suddenly, often at night. They include intense joint pain, commonly in the big toe but can affect any joints like ankles, knees, elbows, wrists and fingers.

The pain is most severe within the first four to 12 hours. After the initial intense pain, there may be lingering discomfort for a few days to weeks. Inflammation, swelling, tenderness, warmth and redness in the affected joints are common.

As gout advances, there may be limited range of motion in the joints.

Reactive arthritis

This is a condition where joint pain and inflammation are caused by an infection elsewhere in the body, typically in the intestines, genitals, or urinary tract. This condition primarily affects the knees, ankles and feet, but can also involve the eyes, skin and urethra.

Previously known as Reiter’s syndrome, reactive arthritis is not very common and symptoms usually resolve within a year, with signs coming and going intermittently.

Reactive arthritis is characterised by pain and stiffness in joints, particularly in the knees, ankles and feet. Additionally, individuals may experience eye inflammation, urinary problems, tendon and ligament inflammation, swollen fingers or toes, skin issues like sores and rashes and low back pain which is often more severe at night or in the morning.

Causes of arthritis

The exact reasons behind various types of arthritis remain unclear, with genetic factors possibly playing a role. Arthritis can be caused by immune system issues or metabolic conditions like gout.

Risk factors for arthritis include: ageing, family history of the condition, excess weight, smoking, repetitive joint movements, and previous joint injuries.

Managing arthritis

Controlling your weight is crucial for managing arthritis symptoms, as extra weight can increase pressure on your joints, particularly the knees, hips and feet. It is advised to shed excess weight if you have osteoarthritis and are overweight or obese.

Ensure that you engage in regular physical activity, especially if you have arthritis. By doing so you can effectively maintain your weight, enhance the flexibility of your joints, and strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints to provide added support.

Using hot and cold therapy can be beneficial in relieving arthritis pain and inflammation. Warm treatments like taking a warm shower or using an electric blanket can help with stiffness, while cold treatments like applying a gel ice pack can reduce joint pain and swelling.

Topical ointments containing pain medications can also provide warmth to soothe joint pain.

Eating a nutritious diet can have a positive impact on your health. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods like fresh fruits, vegetables and whole foods into your meals can enhance your immune system and well-being.

This diet also includes moderate amounts of dairy, poultry, eggs and seafood, but limits consumption of red meat to occasional indulgences.


Arthritis treatment aims to alleviate symptoms and enhance joint function. It might be necessary to experiment with various treatments or a mix of treatments to find the most effective approach for your condition.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can reduce pain and inflammation.

However, these medications can lead to stomach problems and increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.

Steroids, such as prednisone, can reduce inflammation and pain, but may have side effects like bone thinning, weight gain and diabetes.

Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, but can increase infection risk.

Physical therapy can improve range of motions and muscle strength around joints.

Surgery options include joint repair, replacement, or fusion in cases where conservative treatments are not effective.

Arthroscopic procedures are often used for joint repair.

Joint replacement is commonly done for hips and knees.

Joint fusion is more common for smaller joints like wrists, ankles and fingers.

Contact Dr Maxwell on 3631807 or 7575411


"Symptoms, causes, treatment of arthritis"

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