The biggest misconception about 'Arthritis' is that it is a single disease, when, in fact, it is an informal term used to describe joint pain and disease. It is estimated that there are over 100 types of arthritis-related ailments that affect people of all ages, sexes and races. These arthritic conditions are the leading cause of disability in the world.
Symptoms generally affect the joints and surrounding areas and can include; pain, swelling, tightness, reduction in mobility, inflammation, heat and joint disfiguration.
Arthritic pain can range in severity from mild to chronic, can cause short term discomfort or progress and worsen over time. Chronic arthritis can cause a complete loss of mobility in specific joints and in some cases, joint disfiguration.
There are four main categorisations of arthritis;
The most common form of degenerative arthritis is Osteoarthritis, affecting an estimated 2.2 million people in Australia. Causative factors of degenerative arthritis include age, weight, family history and injury.
Osteoarthritis is when the cartilage of the joints wears away, causing friction, often described as 'grinding'. When left untreated, the joint will eventually weaken, reducing mobility and causing persistent pain.
Regular activity, weight management, hot and cold therapies and avoiding repetitive joint movements can reduce the likelihood of sufferings from degenerative arthritis; however, there are many other contributing factors.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, with over a million Australians affected. Caused by the immune system generating inflammation to fight an illusory infection, thus damaging the tissue and lining of the joints.
Genetic and environmental factors can cause the immune system to trigger an unnecessary inflammatory response. Rheumatoid arthritis suffers will often experience 'flare-ups' which over time can cause permanent damage to the joints.
Psoriatic arthritis is another example of an inflammatory response that occurs in people who suffer from the skin disorder psoriasis along with ankylosing spondylitis which affects the spine, neck and pelvis.
With inflammatory arthritis, early diagnosis and treatment are vital in reducing permanent damage and ongoing pain.
Often referred to as septic arthritis, is caused by a virus, bacteria or fungus infecting a joint. Commonly seen in children with compromised immune systems, suffers from viruses such as Ross River or Barmah Fever and people effected by autoimmune syndromes such as Sjogren's or Lupus.
In most cases, a prompt course of antibiotics can reduce infectious arthritic symptoms. However, if left untreated (especially in the cases of infection due to a sexually transmitted disease), it can become chronic.
Gout is the most common form of metabolic arthritis. Men have an 87% higher chance of suffering from gout than their female counterparts. Gout is often localised to the lower extremity joints such as toes and ankles and can occur suddenly.
Symptoms of gout include intense joint pain and swelling, redness, tenderness and inflammation of the affected area. It is caused by high levels of uric acid within the blood crystallising and building up around the joints.
Diet, weight and certain medications are all contributing factors for this metabolic arthritis to develop, with excessive alcohol consumption increasing the risk.
Arthritis can affect any joint within the body; knee joints, finger joints and hip joints are the most common. Did you know that dogs and horses can also suffer from arthritic joint pain? It's not just humans who experience joint pain and inflammation.
With the range of severity, causes, symptoms and suffering time-frames, arthritis can, understandably, be a confusing and challenging disease to live with. Getting an accurate diagnosis is a helpful first step in understanding and treating arthritic joint pain. Another step to take is to look at how you can support your body to reduce inflammation, whether through diet, lifestyle or natural supplements.
Kirsty Strowger, Director of Nature's Help, the leading online distributor of Organic Turmeric products has been producing natural inflammation-fighting products for over 6-years. "Inflammation within the body can cause a myriad of health issues, most prominently arthritic joint pain," she explained "introducing natural supplements such as Turmeric, Curcumin, Probiotics and Magnesium into your diet can work wonders in regulating your immune system, thus reducing inflammation."
Studies have shown that the active nutrient in Turmeric and Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory and can significantly reduce joint inflammation. Probiotics help keep your gut functioning at an optimal level which in turn, promotes a healthy immune system and finally magnesium reduces muscle strain and tension, which can put undue stress on the joints they surround.
Ms Strowger spoke about the feedback she receives from her customers, "we get emails and phone calls daily from customers who have suffered from arthritic pain who noticed a huge reduction in their pain, stiffness and swelling."
Please note: This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary from individual to individual.
Written by Mona Hecke
Mona Hecke is a degree qualified Naturopath, nutrition specialist and health and wellness writer.
With over 20 years in the health industry, beginning with a focus on children and families, and a bestselling book ‘The Lunchbox Revolution’, Mona is now empowering women through education and conversation to take action and embrace change. Gut health, mindfulness, nutrition, hormones, and menopause are the topics that women want and need to know to create their healthy future.
Mona holds certifications in Lifestyle Coaching, Kinesiology, holistic herbal medicine, and nutrition.
A recognised leader in the health industry, Mona’s strong social media presence and passion for influencing change will continue to be a catalyst for health reform for the benefit of every Australian.