Arthritis is a common illness that can affect people, both young and old. Its effects can alter the individual’s quality of life to a significant extent, in both their work life and personal life. Recognizing the symptoms and early warning signs can help people get immediate treatment to prevent the disability and discomfort associated with this condition.
The Difference Between Signs and Symptoms
The words “signs” and “symptoms” are both used in regard to medical conditions. Symptoms are what the patient experiences, such as fever, swelling, pain and other states. Signs are what the physician is able to detect objectively, with his eyes, hands and medical instruments. Along with x-rays and other tests, arthritis symptoms and arthritis signs help the physician to determine whether this condition is the underlying problem.Arthritis Symptoms
Osteoarthritis generally occurs in people over the age of 50. The condition occurs when the fluids and cartilage that protect the joints wear down, no longer providing the additional padding that joints need for proper functioning. The patient may then experience a number of arthritis symptoms, including swelling, stiffness, pain and immobility. Symptoms may be very minor at first, with minor discomfort in the joints on overuse. However, osteoarthritis is a progressive degenerative disease that becomes increasing worse as time goes on. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune system disease that can strike at any age. Its symptoms generally affect both sides of the body at the same time, with stiffness, joint pain and fatigue. Other classification of this disease can also occur.Arthritis Signs
The physician will be alert for several signs that are common for the disease. Redness and swelling may be evident at the site. The joint may be warm to the touch or tender to the touch. Joints may have limited mobility or may have deformity. The physician may even be able to hear creaking in the joints as the bones rub together. In rheumatoid conditions, nodules may be seen at the pressure points of the extremities. Fever, weight loss and fatigue are also arthritis signs. Weight loss can also occur.
Diagnosing the Signs
Generally, arthritis conditions are diagnosed by an orthopedist. Orthopedics is the specialty of medicine that deals with disease of the bones and joints. Orthopedic physicians order a number of tests to determine what is the problem and how extensive the damage is to the joints. They rely primarily on x-rays, which give a clear picture of the condition of the bones and joints. These are usually ordered for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. An MRI can also give the orthopedist information about the conditions of the soft tissues that surround the joints. Anthrocentesis may also be done, a procedure in which a sterile needle is inserted in the joint to remove fluid for laboratory analysis. Anthroscopy is also used to determine the extent of damage from osteoarthritis. In this surgical procedure, a viewing device is used to visually inspect the tissue and bone within the joint. If rheumatoid arthritis is suspected, blood tests are ordered to find rheumatoid factors. Specialized tests to determine the level of antibodies in the blood can help the physician accurately determine if an autoimmune rheumatoid condition is the problem.
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