Arthritis commonly affects many people all over the world and many constantly ask the question why is arthritis painful? Even though it is very common, the disease is currently incurable. You can be at risk for getting arthritis and you may not even know it.
Some different arthritic conditions cannot be changed, but there are certain things that can be done to prevent the onset of arthritis. In the case of seniors and the elderly who already have it, unfortunately, pain management seems to be the only way to address it.
You must first understand arthritis.
It is not primarily a disease of old age because it can affect any age, gender, or race. Even babies at a young age of six months can develop arthritis although it is true that risks increase after the age of 40.
Different things can increase your risk of arthritis. These include:
- Sports injuries earlier in life
- Weight issues – If you are more than 30 pounds overweight, having this extra stress can affect your joints and create arthritis pain. This predisposes that having a good healthy weight and exercising and eating right is one way to prevent arthritis.
- Genetics – There is not much that you can do to counteract it. However, a good and healthy lifestyle can lower the risk of arthritic conditions.
- Gender. Women are more at risk than men for getting different kinds of arthritic pain because of their hormonal changes.
- Race – African Americans are more likely to have lupus, which is an arthritic disease, while Caucasians are at a larger risk for getting rheumatoid arthritis.
If you are at a greater risk for arthritis, you need to take the right steps to reduce your chances of developing an arthritic condition.
A healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising well will keep you at a lower risk. Prevention is always a better strategy against arthritis as it can be difficult to deal with.
Pain is the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you are suffering from arthritis, you will have pain in the joints, and this can prevent you from doing the things that you want to or enjoy.
Just as a red flashing light alerts of danger, pain in the body signals that you need to stop what you are doing and pay attention to the body’s health. Pain is natural and there are certain things that can cause arthritic pain. These could be:
- Inflammation in the joints – This type of pain is usually accompanied joined by redness and swelling.
- Damage to the joint tissue – This feels like having pulled a muscle when this type of pain occurs, and it can be brought about by placing unnecessary stress on a joint.
- Fatigue – Being tired can make a small amount of lingering pain more heightened.
- Depression and stress – Both can cause pain and make pain more severe than it really is. This can be a vicious cycle – You get depressed when you have pain and this will cause you to be more depressed which in turn will cause you to feel even worse.
Arthritic pain feels quite different from other kinds of pain.
Furthermore, because there are several members belonging to the family of arthritis which seem to have overlapping symptoms, trying to read up about arthritis can be mind boggling. This article lays out the differences between 4 types of arthritis that affect the skin.
Why is Psoriatic Arthritis So Painful?
This type of arthritis is related to the skin condition of psoriasis, and it also affects millions of people around the world.
It is known for the swelling of joints accompanied by the scaly patchiness of the skin.
People diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis experience swelling of the joints in the body which include the wrists, knees, back, elbows, and fingers.
This condition also causes gray areas of skin that are very dry around the knees, elbows, and lower back.
Sufferers from the condition often have sausage-like fingers, pitted nails or cuts around the fingernails.
The cause of the condition is unknown but experts think that a combination of genetic predispositions and the environment play roles in the development of psoriatic arthritis.
This condition can begin at any age and with any gender or race, although the most common age for its onset is between age 20 and 50.
It is an unusual condition that deals with both the skin and the joints. Consult your doctor or medical professional for treatments and do not try to treat this yourself because some drugs can cause a negative reaction.
Options other than medication that you can use to treat this disease include
- Exercises to ease the swelling and pain in the joints,
- Skin therapy to treat psoriatic parts of the disease.
- Use of heat and cold
- Rest is very important too.
- Cosmetically this is a disease that can be treated with laser surgery light treatment.
Reactive Arthritis – Why is Arthritis Painful?
This type of arthritis is commonly referred to as Reiter’s Syndrome. The symptoms include swelling, redness, and heat in the joints especially in the spine and inflammation of other joints. It may affect the urinary tract and even the eyes.
Reiter’s Syndrome is related to the family of different arthritic conditions that is known as spondylarthropathies known to affect the spine.
Sufferers experience fever, swelling, and ulcers in the mouth, weight loss and sores on the skin, the latter which may be confused with psoriatic arthritis.
Reiter’s Syndrome has no confirmed cause and can affect any age, gender, or race. Some researchers believe that Reiter’s Syndrome is mostly due to genetics because it seems to run in families.
About 75% of people suffering from Reiter’s Syndrome have a certain gene that is known to trigger the condition.
This disease is painful and affects young Caucasian men between the ages of 20 and 40. It can also develop after certain infections in the small intestine, genitals, and urinary tract because it has been linked to salmonella contamination.
Precautionary measures require that food is properly cooked.
Because this disease affects several parts of the body, many Specialists (dermatologists, urologists, occupational therapists, vision doctors etc) need to be consulted for treatment to help patients live healthy and have normal lives.
Why is Rheumatoid Arthritis Painful?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, multi system, and inflammatory autoimmune disorder that initiates an attack to the joints. It is a very debilitating and painful condition that can result in a loss of mobility.
This type of arthritis is systemic and also affects different tissues throughout the body such as the skin, blood vessels, heart, lungs and muscles.
Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects people between the ages of 20 and 40 and can start anytime.
A family history is important to the risk. It is three times more common in women than in men and up to four times more common in smokers than non-smokers.
Because the symptoms include the inflammation and soft tissue swelling of many joints at the same time – known as polyarthritis – this condition is more readily distinguished from other forms of arthritis.
The joints are usually initially affected asymmetrically, but progress to being symmetrically affected as the disease goes on. It is not like the other forms of arthritis like osteoarthritis because the pain will be localized to the affected joints.
As the disease progresses, the inflammatory activity will lead to the erosion and destruction of the joints that will impair their range of movement and lead to some deformity.
The fingers and the bones will shift outward towards the small finger and take on unnatural shapes.
Because rheumatoid arthritis is a multi system disease, other disease and conditions may develop from the condition. For example, many people that have rheumatoid arthritis will also have anemia.
Anemia is a problem of the red blood cells because there are not enough of them and or the hemoglobin, they create which causes a lowered ability of oxygen to be taken to the tissues. Other diseases include
- Splenomegaly or the enlarging of the spleen.
- Felty’s syndrome and Sjogren’s syndrome which is an autoimmune disorder in which the cells attack and ruin the exocrine glands that produce saliva and tears.
Having stiffness in multiple joints in the morning that goes on for longer than one hour is a common symptom
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis must be administered by a doctor because of the complexity of the condition. Anti-inflammatory agents and analgesics can help to improve pain and stiffness but do not stop any damage or slow down the disease in any way.
This is a chronic disease that is known by the excessive deposit of collagen. It is estimated to affect at least 300,000 people in the U.S. Scleroderma is four times as common in women than it is in men.
Having progressive systemic scleroderma is known as systemic sclerosis and it can be fatal.
Scleroderma mostly affects the skin, and it is known to cause hardening skin and associated scarring. This will give a reddish or scaly appearance.
Some blood vessels may also tend to be more visible, and wastage of fat and muscle wastage can weaken certain limbs and affect their appearance.
Certain arthritic conditions accompany scleroderma. Many sufferers exhibit Raynaud’s phenomenon which is an arthritic vascular symptom that can affect the fingers and toes.
The hands and the feet may have discoloration during cold weather and the finger and toes may experience painful ulcers.
Deposits of calcium around the joints is also common for sufferers of systemic scleroderma and can often be found near the elbows, knees, or other joints.
There are three major types of scleroderma. While there is no cure for this disease, there is treatment for some symptoms. These treatments will mean drugs that soften the skin and reduce the swelling. Your doctor can advise better.
To answer the question why is arthritis painful, you need to understand the symptoms of that type of arthritis. This article discusses 4 common forms affecting the skin which seem to have overlapping symptoms. This is precisely why treatment of arthritis should only be administered by a doctor.
- Preventing Arthritis Pain (2020) https://www.tylenol.ca/symptoms/adult/arthritis/preventing-arthritis-pain
- Arthritis Osteoporosis Treatment Centre AOTC (2017) Causes of Three Common Types of Arthritis https://arthritisjax.com/blog/category/arthritis/
- Bliddal et al (2014) Osteoarthritis, obesity and weight loss: evidence, hypotheses and horizons – a scoping review Obes Rev. 15(7): 578–586 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4238740/#:~:text=Weight loss can prevent the onset of osteoarthritis, relieve, loss reduces the risk for OA in women