Joints Pain, Aging, and Arthritis - Alpha Male Nation
Common warning signs of arthritis and joints pain
The most widely-known symptoms of arthritis are a pain, stiffness, and swelling of one or more joints and difficulty moving or doing daily activities. You might find that your range of motion gradually decreases and may notice that your joints are red, warm and tender to the touch.
Many patients report a worsening of their symptoms in the morning, as well as fatigue and loss of appetite in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. This is due to the inflammatory response triggered by the body’s immune system and can also lead to fever and anemia (due to the decrease in blood cells). Not every ache or pain should be cause for concern.
However, if your symptoms last for 3 days or more or you experience several episodes of severe joint pain throughout the month, it is highly recommended to make an appointment with your physician or contact your family care practitioner for a referral to a rheumatologist.
What causes arthritis?
The flexible connective tissue known as cartilage is what protects your joints from the stress put on them by movement. When the normal amount of this cartilage is reduced, the pressure of the motion shock is no longer properly absorbed, leading to a strong strain in the joints.
Although the breakdown of cartilage is a somewhat natural factor of aging, there are certain injuries or infections which can exacerbate this process and cause osteoarthritis. Moreover, the body’s immune system can mistakenly attack the tissues of the body which lubricate the joints and nurture the cartilage, causing an autoimmune disorder.
Although the exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown, researchers have discovered genetic markers which greatly raise the risk of developing RA.
How do I know if I have arthritis?
If you’ve been experiencing mild to moderate discomfort in your joints for the past month or debilitating joint pain which lasted more than 3 days, then it’s time to find out if there isn’t an underlying condition at play here.
The first step is to make an appointment with your primary care provider and explain to him or her in detail the symptoms you are experiencing. If you have been concerned for a longer period of time but haven’t reached out to a doctor yet – it’s crucial to recognize that treatment is most effective when the disease is still in its early stages.
If you wait too long, there can be severe and potentially life-threatening consequences, as the deterioration of bone strength is not the only possible outcome (there have been many cases reporting damage to internal organs occurring as a result of certain forms of arthritis). You can also visit a generalist who will most probably order a top-level exam and a few other routine tests in order to detect the more common types of arthritis.
Another option is to look for a rheumatologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating rheumatic conditions. He or she will conduct a thorough assessment of the severity of your condition. An orthopedist is also useful in tracking down the mechanical, physiological causes of your joint pain, as well as determining the efficacy and viability of a surgical intervention.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
During the physical exam, your doctor will check for warm or red joints, as well as look for fluid around the joints and test your range of mobility. In order to get a clear image of your bones and cartilage, imaging scans like MRI, X-ray, CT or sometimes an ultrasound will be used.
The images will help identify any structural changes in the joint, soft tissue tears, inflammation, presence of loose tissue fragments, cartilage loss or signs of joint erosion. The doctor will also perform a routine temperature reading, a reflex check and an examination for swollen glands.
You will also have to provide a medical and family history – you will be asked when your symptoms first appeared, how long they last and how high the pain level is. You will also be inquired about your current and past health (recent illnesses, traveling out of the country, working a job which requires long hours of standing or sitting, other chronic diseases etc.).
Aside from a comprehensive family history, you will also have to disclose any potential unhealthy habits (smoking, sedentary lifestyle, excessive consumption of fatty or sugary foods, sleeping patterns), as well as if you suffer from any mental health issues (anxiety, depression etc.).
Making an arthritis diagnosis is relatively straightforward, however, detecting which type of arthritis is affecting the body can be a tricky process. Osteoarthritis is by far the most common form and is usually the first consideration. Nonetheless, there are numerous other types of arthritis, many of which are rare and present with inconsistent symptoms, which come and go over time. Moreover, many forms don’t reveal the full extent of the damage all at once, which is why misdiagnosis sometimes occurs.
Either way, when it comes to inflammatory arthritis, even if there is no specific, clear diagnosis made, routine treatment is still provided in order to bring down the high levels of inflammation and prevent the disease from progressing.
Risk factors and complications
The risk for most types of arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout) increases with age. While women are more susceptible to developing rheumatic conditions, men are more likely to have complications involving gout.
Your genetics also plays a role – if your parents or siblings have the disorder, that makes you prone to environmental factors which can trigger arthritis genes. Obesity is also a risk factor, as excess pounds can put a serious strain on joints, particularly on your hips, spine, and knees.
Previous joint injury (for instance, from playing contact sports) predisposes you to eventually developing arthritis in that joint. Complications can arise in the case of arthritis affecting weight-bearing joints, which can prevent you from sitting up straight or regular walking. If the disease affects your arms or hands, it can become quite difficult to engage in simple, daily tasks. In cases of serious strain and deterioration, the joints can become deformed and twisted.