The set of conditions that affect an individual’s immune system is termed as inflammatory arthritis. These are auto-immune diseases, wherein the immune system or defense system that is meant to safeguard against bacteria, viruses and foreign objects attacks healthy tissues in the body. This can cause considerable joint damage, stiffness in the joints and pain.
These are systemic diseases as they affect the body as a whole and can occur at any age. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are considered to be inflammatory arthritis along with ankylosing spondylitis. You should not confuse these conditions with osteoarthritis which occurs when the joint cartilages wear off .
It is important to understand and check the symptoms associated with these conditions. Despite the lack of a permanent cure, timely diagnosis goes a long way in effective treatment. Keep a record of the flare ups or attacks and consult your doctor if you find one or more of these symptoms persisting over a period of time. Timely intervention can help minimize the damage to the joints and the need for surgery.
Symptoms of Inflammatory Arthritis
Joint Pain and Stiffness
These are the most common and recurring symptoms. It may pain in the lower back, hips, buttocks, outer thigh, hands or heels and sometimes in the entire spine. The pain and stiffness may be worse at night time or in the morning. The stiffness and pain can occur when you have been siting for some time. The dull and numbing pain seems to ease with some physical activity or exercise. Both inactivity and too much activity seem to aggravate the symptoms.
Restricted Joint Movement
The joint movement may becomes limited to the extent that walking becomes a painful chore. Patients experience loss of movement or motion in the lower spine. The mobility in the joints is directly related to the current stage of arthritis with the mobility diminishing as the disease progresses.
The loss of mobility may in certain cases lessen the pain in the joints. Along with reduced mobility, cracking, grinding and clicking sounds can be heard when a person moves due to the deteriorating state of the cartilages.
Joint Swelling and Tenderness
The swelling occurs on account of the buildup of fluids in the joints and damage to the tissues. The joint area becomes red and tender. The area will radiate heat when touched. The swelling usually occurs in the knees, arms, wrists and ankles. Swelling occurs in fingers and toes due to inflammation in both tendons and joints.
Flu Like Symptoms
A system characteristic of inflammatory arthritis is the flu like symptoms that include fever, muscle stiffness, chills, headaches and low energy. There is a general feeling of being unwell or constant fatigue. You may also experience a decrease in appetite and weight loss.
Weakness and Deformity
There is a gradual loss of strength in the hands and fingers with reduced ability to grip, hold or manipulate objects. Prolonged inflammatory forms of arthritis can cause deformation or malformation in the joints, more so, in the hand and finger joints. Some of the visible symptoms include twisted fingers in the case of advanced stages of the disease. If left untreated, these could worsen and the normal ability to use hands and fingers may be lost.
There are other symptoms that are common across conditions of inflammatory arthritis. These include an inflammation of the eyes, tooth decay, and skin and nail changes. The individual may also have difficulty in breathing due to the inflammation of the lung lining. Chest movement or expansion feels restricted as the rib joints are affected.