Chronic arthritis

March 2017


Definition


Chronic arthritis is a chronic inflammatory joint disease characterized by the simultaneous affecting of multiple joints, which spreads in time. There are several forms of chronic arthritis, the most typical being rheumatoid arthritis that affects three times more women than men and usually starts around the age of 50. Ankylosing spondylitis is also a chronic joint disease affecting up to several joints including the joint between the pelvis and the sacrum iliac, and the joints of the spine. Other types of rheumatic diseases affect multiple joints less frequently such as gout, but are usually transient. Localized spreading of osteoarthritis can also cause chronic arthritis while there is a chronic form of arthritis that affects children: juvenile chronic arthritis.

Symptoms


Chronic arthritis is manifested in the following manner:
  • joint pain affecting many different joints;
  • heated joints, increased in volume;
  • a feeling of stiffness in the affected joints;
  • deformations sometimes after the evolution of the disease, especially in rheumatoid arthritis;
  • the appearance of nodules (in advanced stages).

Diagnosis


The diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis is suspected in observing the multi-articular aspect of the infringement and its evolution over several months. X-rays of the affected joints to detect traces of erosion or signs of demineralization are frequently made. Laboratory tests can be performed on blood samples, looking for signs of inflammation. A joint fluid sample can be taken in case of effusion, fluid in a joint.

Treatment


Chronic arthritis has no cure. Its evolution is towards worsening damage. The treatment of the disease should be early so that it is possible to slow the development and reduce the symptoms. The doctor may prescribe analgesics against pain and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or make local corticosteroid injections. Some diseases have specific treatments such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis with methotrexate for example.

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Published by Jeff.
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