Arthritis and Rheumatism


Arthritis, in simple terms, refers to pain/swelling in the joints. Rheumatism is aches/pains/stiffness in the joints, bones or soft tissue.Arthritis is one form of Rheumatism. Arthritis may vary in type or intensity from person to person. There are over 100 types of arthritis. The treatment for one form of it may not necessarily be advisable for another form. Medicines for arthritis should never be taken without consulting a doctor. Arthritis is not hereditary.

Common types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritisis the most common type of arthritis. It usually affects the elderly. Other common types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and so on.

Difference between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis
Osteoarthritis is very common and generally occurs due to ‘wear and tear’. The knees, hip, spine and hands bear the brunt of this type of arthritis. It is most often the elderly who are affected by it. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, affects people across all age groups. It not only affects the joints, but also the lungs, eyes, skin, nerves and so on and can shorten the life span of a person.

How does a person develop arthritis?
In a majority of the cases, the cause of arthritis is not known. Though, diet does play a major role in triggering attacks of gout.

By using modern techniques/methods, most of the arthritis’s are treatable but not curable.Long term remissions, wherein an individual is symptom free for a prolonged period of time, is achievable. It can be kept under control with the usage of certain medicines, thus enabling the person to lead a near-normal life.

What are some of the side effects?
Only a small proportion of those suffering from arthritis develop crippling deformities. A majority of those suffering from arthritis, with good treatment, can lead fairly active and independent lives.

Does climate affect arthritis?
Some patients find that their condition worsens during the winters, while others find it worsens during the summers or the monsoon season.However, there is no scientific backing to this.

Can I sit on the floor/climb the stairs/squat?
People suffering from arthritis are advised to avoid squatting, sitting cross legged on the floor or on low sofas and so on as this adds stress/pressure on the knee joints. It is also advisable to avoid climbing stairs and using the Indian-style lavatory.

Can I walk/jog/exercise?
Most people suffering from arthritis can walk/jog/exercise within reasonable limits. Brisk walking on flat surfaces increases overall well-being, helps control one’s weight and strengthens the muscles as well.

Is Arthritis different from Osteoporosis?
Yes, the two are completely different.Arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints whereas Osteoporosis refers to the situation wherein the bones become brittle and break easily.

Can children be affected by arthritis?
Yes, children can be affected by arthritis too.Common arthritis in children includesrheumatic fever and juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

Is there a connection between the eyes and the joints?
Many kinds of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, affect multiple parts of the body, such as the skin, eyes, gut, urinary tract, heart, lungs, and nerves. Hence, many eye specialists seek the opinion of a rheumatologist while dealing with diseases of the eye.

What is good for my joints: heat or cold?
In the case of acute arthritis, cold application is preferred while in chronic cases, heat therapy is useful.

I don’t wish to take steroids. What should I do?
Only a few types of arthritis require steroids, generally only for a short duration. Your doctor and the condition of your arthritis will determine whether you require steroids or not.

What is the difference between a rheumatologist and an orthopaedic surgeon?
A rheumatologist is physician who is trained to handle different types of musculoskeletal problems.Orthopaedic surgeons are those who perform surgery on bones and joints. Most patients suffering from arthritis require the assistance of a rheumatologist frequently and an orthopaedic surgeon occasionally.