Arthritis is a condition that is often referred to and that affects many people here in the UK and across the globe. But what exactly is arthritis and what is meant when people refer to the condition?
Types Of Arthritis
In fact, there are more than 200 different types of arthritis, depending on how much you want to break down all of the symptoms, but in this article we will look at the main types of arthritis, how they affect sufferers and what arthritis treatments are available and sought for the condition. Very broadly speaking, arthritis is a musculoskeletal condition, and symptoms vary depending on the specific type of arthritis.
There are three main classifications that arthritis conditions fall into. These are:
- Inflammatory arthritis , which includes conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Non-inflammatory arthritis, which includes osteoarthritis
- Connective tissue disease, which includes conditions like lupus
You will probably have heard of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, and that is because these are the most common types. It is mostly these two forms of the condition that we will be taking a closer look at in this article, including looking at the symptoms and types of treatment available.
What Is The Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis?
To learn the difference between various types of arthritis you must first understand what arthritis is as a condition in itself.
Arthritis is classified as a musculoskeletal condition, meaning it affects the musculoskeletal system (i.e. the skeleton and muscles that bind the skeleton). The condition specifically affects the joints and can result in inflammation of the joints and joint pain in knees, hands, feet, hips and any other joints in the body.
Osteoarthritis is far more common than rheumatoid and it affects around ten times as many people as rheumatoid arthritis does. Both conditions are forms or arthritis, but both have very different characteristics and need different types of treatment.
Osteoarthritis is more common the older we get, whereas rheumatoid arthritis can occur and affect you at any time in your life.
Usually, osteoarthritis is a condition that develops very slowly over years and years and can be worsened in younger years by certain activities, such as typing or running on a regular basis.
Rheumatoid arthritis however comes on very rapidly and can suddenly develop over weeks or months, rather than years. Osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory form or arthritis, and so although the joints may ache and feel slightly painful, they are not inflamed or swollen, unlike in rheumatoid arthritis when joints are stiff, swollen, inflamed and are extremely painful.
Also, with rheumatoid arthritis sufferers, the entire body can be affected and the sufferer may feel generally tired and unwell, while osteoarthritis sufferers will not see any symptoms other than in their joints.
How Is Arthritis Treated?
Rheumatoid arthritis is treated in conventional medicine by the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This is something that many alternative medicine doctors, including Dr Nyjon Eccles at Amchara recommend due to the long term adverse effects of these drugs on the body. These adverse side effects include stomach bleeding as well as kidney problems, which can lead to intermittent kidney failure in later life.
Of course, these side effects are far more damaging to the body than the condition that the drugs are supposed to treat in the first place and so other treatments may be considered if you are concerned about taking conventional drugs, which of course as with all drugs can cause damage to the liver over years too. In order to diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, as this is an auto-immune illness you will usually need to have a blood test.
As osteoarthritis is a non-inflammatory version of the illness, the treatment is usually very different. Conventional GPs will usually recommend certain lifestyle changes including exercise and diet improvements, while they may also recommend painkillers to manage the pain side of the illness, which carries similar risks to the drugs diagnosed for rheumatoid arthritis.
As you may, or may not be aware, there are alternative treatments available which are far less damaging to your health, such as those offered here at Amchara.
Alternative Arthritis Treatments
Alternative treatments for both forms or arthritis are mostly centred around eating the right foods to help with the symptoms of your arthritis.
In terms of rheumatoid arthritis, of course the underlying cause is inflammation within the body and so we recommend eating foods that counteract this inflammatory response in the body. Vitamin D and omega 3 are both natural anti-inflammatories and so it is important to have the right balance of these in the body.
More than 70% of the UK population are deficient in vitamin D as it is not produced naturally within the body, and so by ensuring that you have adequate vitamin D in the body you can aid your body by giving it a natural dose of anti-inflammatories, reducing inflammation of the joints and thus reducing pain.
Omega 3 as we mentioned is also a natural anti-inflammatory, however fatty acids work by getting the right balance between them in the body. Most people nowadays have far too much omega 6, and not enough omega 3 so to help your body fight rheumatoid arthritis (and for general all round good health), it is important to get the balance right.
Certain sugars can actually make rheumatoid arthritis worse, including a particular fructose found in certain fruits that is actually pro-inflammatory. In order to help your body fight the illness naturally you can reduce the consumption of fruits that contain this fructose, all of which is taught when you visit the Amchara arthritis retreat so that you can continue to aid your own health when you leave.
Osteoarthritis is non-inflammatory as we mentioned, and so the treatment is different however eating a healthy diet is always a good start. We do also recommend however that you enjoy regular gentle exercise to help the joints to remain flexible such as yoga for arthritis, something else that we can offer at Amchara.
Finally, acupuncture has also been shown in various studies to help to reduce pain naturally in patients suffering from both types of arthritis, which is why acupuncture sessions are included in the arthritis programme at Amchara.