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Arthritis: Treatment and Impact on Population Essay

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Updated: May 3rd, 2022

Introduction

Arthritis is an inflammation of joints that results in pain in the affected joints and eventually, the pain spreads to the rest of the body parts. This condition is chronic and affects the elderly in society. However, even young people can suffer from this condition. There are different classifications of arthritis that depend on the part of the body of the joint, which they have affected. Arthritis makes the joint muscles stiff causing damage that leads to unnecessary fatigue that eventually translates into acute pain.

Definition

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability among many disabled people in Australia. This is because it causes the inability to move for the people suffering from the condition. The inability to move leads to further complications such as blood pressure, obesity, and eventually a heart attack. Arthritis is also a major cause of depression among the elderly. The condition comes in different forms namely, rheumatoid arthritis, gout arthritis, and osteoarthritis (VanItallie, 2010).

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It starts with minor pain when walking. The pain gradually develops into continuous pain that occurs even when one is not walking. Osteoarthritis affects the weight-bearing joints such as the spinal cord and pelvic joint. This condition is chronic in that there is no absolute cure and only measures to prevent the condition from worsening can be put in place. It is a risk factor for obesity, heart attack, and blood pressure conditions (Crosbie, 2007).

Rheumatoid arthritis is among the most common forms of arthritis. Unlike osteoarthritis, it is not only prevalent in the elderly but in all age groups especially those aged twenty years and above. This condition involves the body’s immune system responding against the body tissues and attacking them eventually causing damage. Among the body parts affected by rheumatoid arthritis are the cartilages and bones. It affects joints in the fingers, knees, and elbows. The condition too has no absolute cure, although when detected earlier and the patient administered with the right preventive medication, one can lead a normal and healthy life. In children, other symptoms of this condition may include body rashes and weakness, which results in inability to walk or handle objects with their hands (Felson, 2007).

Gout arthritis is another condition that develops when uric acid is deposited around the joints. In the early stages, it occurs only in one joint but if it is not controlled early, it may occur in all joints. It may lead to multiple inflammations making the affected person crippled (Ali, 2009).

Common experiences of those living with arthritis

Arthritis manifests in a number of ways. The first one is general tiredness where the victims indicate that they are suffering from malaise and general body weakness that hinders their normal movement from one place to another (Becker, 2005). The other symptom that affects people suffering from arthritis is the inability to use their hands or walk. The joint pains and morbidity of the bone tissues at the joint make it extremely hard for arthritis patients to move due to muscle strains at the stiffened joints and bones. Individuals suffering from arthritis also suffer from loss of sleep mainly due to the acute pain in the joints that makes them restless. It also leads to fever, muscle aches, pains and tenderness that make the bone too soft (Chan, 2011).

Issues affecting the arthritis patients

Since arthritis is a chronic disease, its treatment involves a number of different treatment methodologies. The first methodology involves physical therapy. This is where the patient engages in particular physical exercise recommended by the physiotherapist. Because the disease usually affects the joints, physical exercises are intended to ensure that the joints remain in place and enable the patient to cope with pain. The treatment may occur in the gym or at a place designated by the physical therapist (Applegate, 2008). The other type of measure involves having medical treatment to deal with the pain. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis, medication is required to stop the immune system from attacking its own body tissues (Bridges, 2010).

Due to the complexity of the physical exercise equipment to assist the patients in recovery and dealing with this condition, the treatment process is costly. Therefore, other forms of support for the patient suffering from this condition are necessary. The support for the patients includes family therapy where the family of the patients assist in physical exercise. The family also assists in meeting the medical bills of the patients (Wollenhaupt, 2008). This support is necessary because if the patients do not have anyone, support group or community to encourage them exercise the joints, their condition may worsen and lead to development of other risk factors such as obesity and heart disease. This means that there must be lifestyle adjustments for the patients if they are going to minimise the condition and its effect (Crook, 2006).

The other effect on the patients of arthritis regards the diet. Since the chronic condition affects the joints especially osteoarthritis, it is imperative to ensure the patients eat diets that help them remain healthy. This is because overweight patients tend to feel more pain than those with normal weight. The disease affects most of the weight supporting joints like the pelvic joints and the spinal joints. When the patient is overweight, the painful joints will have more stress than if the patient had normal weight (Witter, 2005). The diet factor assists the patients eat healthy foods that will help them maintain their normal weight even with reduced movements. The reduced movements may lead to obesity and heart attack if there is no alternative to assist the patient cope with the condition. The family support is imperative in ensuring that the patients follow the nutritionist instructions on how to keep the body fit irrespective of the reduced physical exercises and movements (Swash, 2007).

Self-management activities

The other support factor involves the creation of self-help groups where patients suffering from arthritis come together and share their experiences. Such forums may invite people who have recovered from arthritis and others who have managed to keep the condition at manageable levels (Vickers, 2008).

These support groups are common and assist in building positivity in the patient by providing emotional and social support that is significant in recovery (Hendey, 2009). Since arthritis especially among the young people is traumatic, most of the patients suffer psychologically and it may increase mortality rates if the patient does not receive social support (Hendey, 2009). The pain in the joints reduces social interaction and movement of the patient where without social support; the patient is likely to experience posttraumatic stress disorders such as nightmares and sleeping disturbances (Millar, 2008).

The other treatment measure involves water exercises where the patient exercises in water. These kinds of exercises are therapeutic to arthritis patients especially on those who feel fatigued and unable to walk under normal conditions. Walking in water especially in warm water is soothing and easier than walking on land. This helps the patients to keep the joints in shape without feeling extreme pain (Institute of Registered Myotherapists of Australia, 2012). The other physical exercise recommended for patients suffering from arthritis involves strength training. This involves engaging the body muscles and the joints in strenuous activities that will restore the joints to their normal body positions (Foltz, 2005). It may involve wrapping the joints with rubber bands and weight lifting. These excessive exercises should be in the presence of physiotherapist who will assist the patient during the exercises (Swash, 2007). Other than the physical treatments, other complimentary therapies supplement the physical therapy and keep the pain and other symptoms away. They involve use of natural food supplements such as fish oil for those suffering from osteoarthritis and krill oil for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis (Braun, 2009). Other food supplements include ginger, pine bark extracts and acupuncture. They supplement the physical exercises by providing oil to the joints making it easier for the patient to move (Brewer, 2009).

The other preventive measure used to deal with arthritis is the massage therapy where patients massage their bodies. The massage enables the muscles to relax and is a therapeutic mechanism for the patients especially those with spinal problems. There are two types of massage therapists in Australia. Remedial therapists deal with patients who need such services and relation massage therapists assist the patients to relax especially those who are unable to rest or sleep (Australian Association of Massage Therapists, 2012).

Community’s resources

Individuals who live alone are at higher exposure of mortality because stress factors and social support may be lacking and yet they are necessary for people suffering from arthritis (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010). This explains why people living alone may have high mortality rates especially the elderly people with no one to take care of them. However, the elderly in Australia may survive longer because they have overcome the stress factors; have social support unlike the younger population that is exposed to stress factors and eventually cardiovascular disease, which results to death (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012).

Public health implications involve development of insurance policies to cater for the arthritis patients by assisting them with affordable treatment. Policies to incorporate the social support groups as part of the medication procedure will assist in the treatment of those suffering from this condition (Witter, 2005).

Conclusion

This condition is necessary to deal with due to its effect on the working population of Australia (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). When people are not healthy, they are unable to perform their duties at the work place, which makes them less productive. Those suffering from this condition need sensitization on how to respond appropriately before they become susceptible to the risk factors such as heart failure, diabetes as well as depression. This problem is critical as it robs the country millions of revenues in labor costs and treatment procedures.

References

Ali, S (2009). Treatment failure gout. Journal of medicine and health, 92(11), 369-371.

Applegate, W. (2008). A randomized trial comparing aerobic exercise and resistance exercise with a health education program in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 277(1), 25-31.

Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT). (2012). Therapeutic massage for arthritis patients. Web.

Becker, A. (2005). Arthritis and allied conditions: A textbook of rheumatology. Sydney: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Press.

Braun, L. (2009). Herbs and natural supplements: An evidence based guide. Sydney: Churchill Livingstone.

Brewer, S (2009). Overcoming arthritis: The complete complementary health program. London: Duncan Baird Publishers.

Bridges, P. (2010). Prehistoric arthritis in America. Annual Review of Anthropology, 21(2), 67-91.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Web.

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation in United States, 2007-2009. Arthritis Weekly, 59(39), 1261-1265.

Chan J. (2011). Chronic arthritis treatment, juvenile chronic arthritis pain, chronic arthritis symptoms: Chronic arthritis treatment, symptoms and relief. Web.

Crook, D. (2006). Arthritis in Australia. American Journal of Medical Science. 7(2), 78–84.

Crosbie J. (2007). Physical therapy is effective for patients with osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of Rheumatology, 28(1), 156-164.

Felson, D. (2007). The lag time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis and rheumatism, 37(6), 814-820.

Foltz, D. (2005). Alternative treatments for arthritis: The ultimate guide to herbs, supplements, bodywork and other complementary treatments for arthritis. Atlanta: Arthritis Foundation of America.

Hendey, G. (2009). Harwood-nuss’ clinical practice of emergency medicine. Sydney: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins Press.

Institute of Registered Myotherapists of Australia. (2011). Arthritis therapies. Web.

Millar, A. (2008). Action plan for arthritis: Your guide to pain free movement. Illinois: Human Kinetic Champaign.

Swash, M. (2007). Hutchison’s clinical methods. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.

VanItallie, T. (2010). Gout: Epitome of painful arthritis. Metabolic Clinic Experts. 59(4), 32-36.

Vickers, A. (2008). ABC of complementary medicine. London: Wiley-Blackwell.

Witter, J. (2005). What can chronic arthritis pain teach about developing new analgesic drugs? Journal of Rheumatology. 6(1), 279-281.

Wollenhaupt, J. (2008). Undifferentiated arthritis and reactive arthritis. Current opinion in rheumatology, 10(4), 306-313.

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