Inflammation of the joints is referred to as arthritis. The inflammation arises when the smooth covering (cartilage) at the end surfaces of the bones wears away. In some cases, the inflammation is caused when the lining of the joint becomes inflamed as part of an underlying systemic disease. These conditions are referred to as inflammatory arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease because it occurs when your immune system, which normally fights against infection, starts destroying healthy joints.
What Causes Inflammatory Arthritis?
Cause of inflammatory arthritis is mainly attributed to genetic factors. Genes play a major role in causing inflammatory arthritis. Another important factor is environmental which includes viral infections. Smoking cigarette, stress, hormones, and infectious agents are some of the other factors that can be a trigger for the condition.
What are the Symptoms of Inflammatory Arthritis?
Inflammatory arthritis is mainly characterized by aching pain, joint tenderness, morning stiffness, warmth, and swelling. Symptoms are not localized to the damaged joint since it affects the entire body, you may also experience fever, inflammation of the eye, weakness, organ damage, loss of hair, dry mouth and skin rashes.
How is Inflammatory Arthritis Diagnosed?
Inflammatory arthritis can be diagnosed by a physical examination and by reviewing your medical history. X-rays, laboratory tests and other imaging tests may be ordered to diagnose or rule out other conditions. X-rays may show thinning or erosion in the bones or loss in joint space. Laboratory studies will show the presence of a rheumatoid factor or other antibodies.
How is Inflammatory Arthritis Treated?
Treatment mainly involves a conservative approach. Your doctor may prescribe several drugs which include disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), biologic agents (newer DMARDs), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids. The DMARDs reduce the body’s immune response against the joints, whereas the NSAIDs and steroids reduce swelling and pain. Corticosteroids stop the inflammation that threatens the internal organs or joints. Another treatment involves exercise programs to retain mobility and strength. Surgical treatment is rarely considered in this condition.