By Dr Nelson Makemba
OFTEN time the causes is swollen painful joints are multifactorial in nature and broadly fall into various categories, such as an inflammatory process degeneration of cartilages in the joints especially with age, infection, trauma or crystal deposition. Furthermore, the disease process is futher classified in groups such as Osteoarthritis, Arthritis, Dislocations, Fractures, Rheumatoid arthritis, gout, Tenosynovitis, and Systemic lupus Erythematous but to mention few common ones.
The clinical presentation often overlaps with patients presenting with joint stiffness, tenderness, inflammation and swelling. Except for Rheumatoid arthritis which causes joint disfigurement and gout where the big toe is mostly affected and a burning sensation of the foot.
Management of this condition entails doing x-rays, blood testing for auto-immune markers such as RF (Rheumatoid factors)and serum uric acid levels. The use of a sonar is often useful when one suspects the involvement of soft tissue and CT scan/ MRI scan are highly useful in difficult case because of their high resolution which gives clear define images. Analgesia (pain killers) are often prescribed to easy the pain Physiotherapy and Biokinetics are very good rehabilitative modalities to improve movement.
There are other aspects that patients can engage to help improve the quality of their joints health such as losing weight, exercising and taking supplements such as calcium and magnesium. We often advise our patient to wear comfortable shoes and using cushions to help easy the pain.
In conclusion it is always a good thing to have your doctor examine your joints properly especially our elderly population because they are often the one at increased risk.
Dr. Makemba Shayela Nelson – MBChB – University of Kwazulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa. Nesha Medical Practice.
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