Are all joint pains arthritis

Are all joint pains arthritis

by Dr. Abhra Chandra Chowdhury

Posted on 16th May, 2023 at 6:18:50 AM

All of us whether young or old have pain in our joints at some point in our life. That pain may be just temporary lasting for a few days or may last months to years. E.g suppose you fell down and hurt your knees, you have knee pain and maybe some swelling also which subsides in a few days. A young man working in the IT sector has to spend a long time in the office sitting and has low back pain. A 50-year-old man has neck pain and the doctor has told him to have cervical spondylosis. My grandmother has severe knee pain. All these are examples of pain of musculoskeletal origin in our day-to-day life, involving joints. But these are not arthritis.

Arthritis literally means inflammation of the joints. Inflammation means pain, swelling, redness, and limitation of movements when joints are concerned, and pain with limited movements when the neck or back is concerned. It is a very specific symptom . Not many of us would have had gross swelling of joints.

I understand what is arthritis but then what are most of our joint pain due to?
Most of our joint-related symptoms can be either inflammation related (inflammatory) or not unrelated to inflammation (noninflammatory). Arthritis falls into the inflammatory category.

In the non-inflammatory category, there are several types.

1>Degenerative ( occurring as a result of wear and tear due to age )- most of the knee pain, neck pain, low back pain occurring in old age would fall into this category

2> Traumatic Occurring after an injury eg fall

3> Repetitive strain injury (also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorder) e.g. pain at the base of thumb due to overuse of mobile.

4>The rest causes would fall into a non-specific or mechanical category- these are mostly related to being overweight or lack of fitness or poor ergonomics ( Ergonomics is the science of fitting a workplace to the user’s needs, ergonomics aims to increase efficiency and productivity and reduce discomfort) Knee pain in an overweight young lady, Back pain in a housewife who bends down several time in a day, back pain in an IT profession who has to sit for hours in front of a computer all would fall into this category.

Is arthritis a disease?
Arthritis is not a disease by itself but rather it is a symptom of a disease. Like fever is a common symptom of many diseases like malaria, typhoid likewise arthritis is a common symptom of many diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, etc

The doctor has told me my mother has osteoarthritis. Is it a type of arthritis?
Osteoarthritis although contains the term arthritis is usually a non-inflammatory disorder (although recent research shows that there may be some inflammation also)It can occur due to many causes like obesity, joint injury, and old age. There are no effective medicine for osteoarthritis unlike other causes of arthritis where there are effective medicines. The only medicines are maintaining your weight in the healthy range, doing regular exercise, etc.

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