In Singapore, there is a report of a rising trend of young people developing arthritis. The survey conducted by the Ministry of Health found that 23.7% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 50 report to be suffering from chronic joint problems. This was a jump from the previous report of 7.4% among adults between the ages of 18 and 64 conducted just 6 years prior.
When people think of arthritis, they often assume it refers to joint pain or joint disease. Contrary to popular belief, Arthritis is not a single disease, but rather according to the Arthritis Foundation, there are over 100 types of arthritis and conditions related to it.
Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are the most common types of arthritis. They may share common symptoms and affect the same joints but their causes are different.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative disease that is caused by the breakdown of the cartilage that serves as the connective tissue between bones. On the other hand, Rheumatoid (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain to the joints throughout the entire body.
Of the two, Osteoarthritis is the more common and although it too has symptoms such as inflammation and pain, it is localised or is limited to a few affected joints and only develops on one side of the body. Morning stiffness or stiffness after prolonged inactivity can last for just a few minutes up to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, Rheumatoid Arthritis affects both sides of the body and causes more inflammation, systematically affecting multiple joints. RA may also have symptoms of fever or the flu as well as fatigue, weight loss, and inflammation beyond joints such as eyes and lungs. Morning joint stiffness lasts longer than 30 minutes and symptoms may begin with minor joint aches, developing quickly within weeks.
Arthritis is caused by damage to protective tissue surrounding the bones. The difference lies in the causes of this damage. In Osteoarthritis, protective cartilage breaks down over time due to strenuous movements that cause extreme stress to the joints such as sports. These causes wear and tear leading to the deterioration of the joint cartilage and the narrowing of the space between bones. As a result, bones rub against each other, causing pain, inflammation, development of bone spurs and limited movement.
Rheumatoid Arthritis occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues in the joints. This destroys the linings of the joints, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
The following table is a comparison of the different characteristics of OA vs RA:
May begin at any point in life
Begins later in life
Speed of onset
Fast, can be weeks or months
Gradual, over years
Pain, inflammation and stiffness
Pain and tenderness, sometimes sweeling
Pattern of affected joints
Affects both sides of the body and affects multiple joints at the same time
Localize to a few joints on one side of the body
May last about an hour
May last for 30 minutes or less.
Presence of whole body symptoms (systemic)
Present through fatigue and flu-like symptoms.
As chronic conditions, RA and OA do not disappear and at the present, there is no known cure or a way to reverse joint damage. However, certain treatments may alleviate some of the pain and discomfort individuals with these conditions experience.
Medications such as nonsteroidal inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce inflammation, allowing patients free and painless movement. Steroids can also be injected into the affected joints, providing short term relief from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain and improving range of motion.
For RA, alongside NSAIDs or steroid medication, physicians may also recommend disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) which can suppress the immune system and reduce damage to tissues in the joints.
Physical therapy and Occupational therapy are often recommended for arthritis patients. Physiotherapist Singapore helps patients regain full range of motion through exercises that improve their balance, endurance and muscle strength.
Occupational therapy aids those who experience pain while executing daily tasks. Occupational therapists may teach patients new ways of doing things to not aggravate the affected joint. They can also help choose assistive devices that can aid in their patient’s mobility as well as give instructions on how to use these devices.
Eating healthy and staying active is a good way to keep your body in good condition.
Low-impact exercises are ideal for those who have arthritis as it is easy on the joints while it improves range of motion, strengthens muscles and increases mobility. Examples of such may be swimming or walking.
Getting quality sleep can help reduce swelling, pain and fatigue caused by arthritis.
A healthy diet is crucial to a well-balanced lifestyle and a strong body. Healthcare providers may recommend diets high in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish, seeds and nuts. Letter vitamins such as A, C and E found in dark chocolate, leafy greens, beans and berries may also be helpful as they are antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation in the body. Ultimately, eating a balanced diet is the best way to keep your body nourished, strong and healthy.
The following is a list of hospitals that specialize in treating Osteoarthritis:
Address: Level 12, Raffles Specialist Centre 585 North Bridge Road
Contact Number: +65 6311 2310
Mon – Fri: 8:30 am – 6:00 pm
Sat: 8:30 am- 1:00 pm
(Closed on Sundays)
Address: Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, 3 Mount Elizabeth, #14-15, Singapore 228510
Contact Number: +65 6697 4975
Mon – Fri: 8:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 8:30am – 12:30pm
(Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)
Address: Sengkang General Hospital, 110 Sengkang East Way, Singapore 544886
Contact Number: +65 6930 5000
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
The following is a list of hospitals that specialize in treating Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Address: Singapore General Hospital Outram Road Singapore 169608
Contact Number: 65 3214377
Weekdays: 8 am – 5 pm
Saturdays : 8am – 12pm
Address: 6 Napier Road #04-18 Gleneagles Medical Centre Singapore 258499
Contact Number: (65) 6472 4337
Mon, Wed to Fri: 9am – 12.30pm; 2pm – 3pm
Tue: 9am – 11.30am
Sat:9am – 12pm
(Closed on Sunday & Public Holiday)
Address: 38 Irrawaddy Road Singapore 329563
Contact Number: +65 6933 0000
Open 24 hours, 7 days a week
Arthritis is a common condition in Singapore and as a chronic illness, it gets worse over time. As of the moment, there is no known cure for this degenerative condition so early detection is key in preventing it from worsening or causing disability. If you are experiencing symptoms of arthritis, Retire Genie can match you with a trained physician or rheumatologist Singapore who can create a personalized treatment plan that can keep your symptoms in check as well as give advice on how to lead a healthy and well-rounded lifestyle.