The Facts About Arthritis

n short, arthritis is an inflammation of one or more of the joints.1 It can affect anyone, any gender or age and is excruciatingly painful, not least to mention, in the most severe cases, it can be debilitating.

A staggering number of people suffer with arthritis, over 50 million Americans are affected by it, making it the #1 cause of disability.2 Arthritis is very common amongst the adult population, especially older adults aged over 65, but it can also develop in children, and younger adults too. Arthritis tends to be more common in women than men and in people who are overweight.

It can affect only one joint or, if you are unlucky enough, multiple joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, with various causes and of course, different treatments. Symptoms vary and can wane or increase in intensity (and can even disappear altogether for periods of time), depending on the cause of the arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic inflammatory disease that results in the deterioration of cartilage and bone and is often characterized by a typical pattern and distribution of synovial joint involvement. This particular form of arthritis can cause deformities of the joints and loss of function.3

What are the Causes & Symptoms of Arthritis?

Arthritis affects the cartilage. This cartilage acts as a flexible connective tissue that connects the joints — a shock absorber — protecting the joints from pressure or shock which is created when movement occurs. A reduction in the regular amount of cartilage tissue can cause some types of arthritis. Injury, genetics or disease can also play their part in the cause of arthritis.

What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?

The symptoms of arthritis are varied. Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are amongst the most common symptoms. Mobility and range of motion may also be affected, and you could also experience redness of the skin around the joint.

RA can present with deformities and/or joint fusions, which usually happens in the more advanced stages of the disease. The damage it causes is irreversible.

How Is Arthritis Diagnosed?

To receive a full diagnosis, you will need to visit your doctor who will initially carry out a physical examination. Blood tests will help determine what type of arthritis you may be suffering from and tests such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scans will provide more detailed information.

Such tests, often referred to as imaging, can provide valuable information to help treat the disease. This is specifically very true in the case of RA, in which it is very important that the issue of septic arthritis is eliminated. In the case of RA, radiography remains the first choice in imaging RA because it is relatively cheap and an effective way to closely monitor the progression of the disease.

What Treatment Options are there for Arthritis?

Treating arthritis will require a treatment plan that covers pain prevention, inflammation reduction and ways to reduce additional damage to the joints to prevent further suffering. You may well be prescribed a combination of treatment options to achieve the best results.

Medication such as analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are familiar ways to provide immediate soothing relief. In more severe cases, surgery may be an option, but this is a major operation to replace your joint with an artificial one. This is quite common in knee and hip joints. If your arthritis is more severe in your fingers or wrists, your doctor may perform a joint fusion. In this procedure, the ends of your bones are locked together until they heal and become one. Physiotherapy is also a good alternative. This involves exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint and is a core component of arthritis treatment. Such activities as swimming and Pilates may be employed.

In severe cases, such as RA, surgery may be necessary to relieve severe pain and help improve mobility and function of the joints that have been severely affected. This is usually only undertaken once all the other options, (such as medication) have been exhausted and it is obvious that there is no other choice.

Living with Arthritis

Arthritis cannot be cured. That said, the correct treatment can significantly reduce the severity of the symptoms presented. Certain lifestyle changes can also be adopted and together, there should be some measure of improvement.

Regular exercise will keep your joints flexible and swimming is often a good form of exercise for people with arthritis because it doesn’t put added pressure on your joints the way running and walking do. Staying active is important, but you should also be sure to rest when you need to and avoid overexerting yourself.

Losing weight will also help, and a healthy diet will also boost your positive well-being and help with tackling the challenging symptoms of arthritis.

Simple things like warm baths with soothing aromatherapy oils can provide short-term relief. Listening to your body and understanding its limitations is essential if you want to ensure that the disease doesn’t get out of control. Be kind and gentle to yourself.

This is a condition that you will have to ‘learn’ how to deal with and see what works for you. Everyone is different and every situation requires a unique treatment plan.

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James Yougler is a blogger, writer, and content creator at Jame’s last post was a review of Research Verified.

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