Savvy Britain

Arthritis - Treatment and Diagnosis

Arthritis is a common health condition in Britain, it causes inflammation and pain in a joint.

It’s estimated around 10 million people suffer from it throughout the United Kingdom, making it one of the most common health problems.

There’s typically two different types of Arthritis, they’re called:
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
Please link on a link above to find out more information.

It’s not just Arthritis itself which can cause pain and discomfort, there’s also a few medical conditions which are linked to the ailment.

Other related conditions can include:
  • Fibromyalgia – This causes pain in the body’s muscles, tendons and ligaments
  • Lupus – This is an autoimmune condition, which can affect different tissues and organs
  • Cervical Spondylosis – Usually this affects the bones and joints in the neck
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis – This tends to be a long-term inflammatory condition which affects the muscles, bones and ligaments of the spine.
  • Gout – This is caused by too much uric acid in the body
  • Reactive Arthritis – Normally this causes inflammation to the eyes, urethra and joints.
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica – This is a condition which usually affects people over 50 years old.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis – An inflammatory joint condition
  • Enteropathic Arthritis – Typically is a chronic inflammatory arthritis which can be associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Usually Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis.

Classic Symptoms of Arthritis

Symptoms of Arthritis can vary, depending on each individual, what some people may feel, others may not.

However, typically the ‘classic symptoms of Arthritis’ include:
  • Inflammation around the Joints
  • Joint Pain, Stiffness or Tenderness
  • Restricted Joint Movement
  • Muscle Weakness or Muscle Wasting
  • Red Skin over the Joint (usually it’s warm)
For an accurate diagnosis it’s always recommended to seek professional medical guidance from a Doctor. Please remember that the Internet cannot diagnosis anybody, the symptoms listed above are to be used as a guide only. These symptoms can be present in other medical conditions too, which may not be related to Arthritis at all. Only a trained GP can give a correct verdict.

Arthritis Treatment

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for Arthritis, the best a Doctor can do, is to recommend an Arthritis treatment plan, which should ease the pain and help to keep the inflammation to a minimum.

Typically, an osteoarthritis treatment will usually include:
  • Painkillers
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
  • Corticosteroids
If your case is regarded as severe, some Doctors may recommend surgery, this can include:
  • Arthrodesis – this is a procedure for joint fusion
  • Osteotomy – this is when the bone is cut and re-aligned
  • Arthroplasty – this is a joint replacement

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis typically depends an individual’s condition. Usually it’s used to ‘slow down’ the condition and minimise swelling of the joints. Usually Doctors will recommend:
  • Painkillers
  • Disease Modifying Anti-Rheumatic Drugs (DMARDs)
  • Physiotherapy
  • Regular Exercise

Alternative Treatments and Medicine Although not available on the National Health Service, some private insurance policies may offer alternative Arthritis treatment.

This obviously varies massively depending on each policy agreement, however if you have a private healthcare plan, you may want to explore this possibility in more detail.

Medical advancements are continuing at a fast pace, some of the ‘new’ alternative treatments for arthritis include:
  • TENS – Also known as ‘Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation’ this has been designed to aid the control of pain
  • Low Level Laser Therapy – Although still in its infancy, this has been created for pain relief and stiffness
  • PEMF – Also known as ‘Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy’, this has been designed to improve muscle functionality. At the latest trials, there’s been no supporting evidence of pain relief, as PEMF is still in the development stages.

Please bear in mind, you will need to see a professional Doctor or Hospital consultant before considering any ‘alternative’ treatment.

Most new medicines and treatments will be required to ‘pass’ many trials and stages, before being able for general use in the United Kingdom. For more information on this, please speak to your Doctor.

Arthritis and Children

There’s a common myth that Arthritis is only affects the elderly, this isn’t true. Arthritis can also affect children and young people too. It’s estimated around 15,000 are affected in the United Kingdom.

There’s a few different ‘types’ of arthritis which affect kids, however most are known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

This tends to cause inflammation and pain to the joints for weeks or even months at a time.

Usually Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis symptoms do ‘improve’ as a child gets older, in most cases they will lead a completely normal adult life.

The History of Arthritis

Arthritis is a word which comes from the Greek language, ‘arthro’ meaning joint and ‘itis’ meaning inflammation.

Although mainly a disease of the elderly, Arthritis has been part of human life for centuries. At this present moment, it’s estimated around 15% of people in Australia and 20% of Americans have some type of Arthritis.

However, it’s not just the modern age where Arthritis is present, it’s been suggested that there’s evidence of osteoarthritis in dinosaurs!

The first ‘known’ traces of human arthritis can be dated to around 4500 BC, as you can see, our civilisations have been living with the condition for centuries.

It has been reported that arthritis was a ‘common aliment’ of prehistoric people.

For example, arthritis has been found in Egyptian mummies circa 2500 BC to skeletal remains of a Native Americans found in Tennessee.

Please remember this page has been created to help the British public understand Arthritis and it’s causes in more detail. It does not substitute professional medical advice, opinion or treatment from a Doctor or Hospital Consultant.

Equally we cannot be held liable or responsible under any circumstance, this page is to be used as a ‘general guide’ only. Please speak to your local GP or call NHS 111, if you’re concerned or would to know more information about Arthritis.
Original Publication: 10 July 2017
Last Updated: 10 July 2017

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