Arthritis is one of the most pervasive diseases in the United States and is the leading cause of disability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention one out of every three Americans (an estimated 70 million people) is affected by one of the more than 100 types of arthritis.
For most people arthritis pain and inflammation cannot be avoided as the body ages. In fact, most people over the age of 50 show some signs of arthritis. Joints naturally degenerate over time. Fortunately, arthritis can be managed through a combination of medication, exercise, rest, weight-management, nutrition, and, in some cases, surgery. Your doctor can tell if you have arthritis through blood tests and x-rays. He or she will then be able to help you decide on the best treatment for your case.
Arthritis is a chronic disease that will be with you for a long time and possibly for the rest of your life. Your treatments will probably change over time and medication may be adjusted. Having a positive mental outlook and the support of family and friends will help you live with arthritis and be able to continue to perform your daily activities.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is a term that includes a group of disorders that affect your joints and muscles. Arthritis symptoms include joint pain, inflammation and limited movement of joints. When a joint is inflamed it may be swollen, tender, warm to the touch or red. Surrounding each joint is a protective capsule holding a lubricating fluid to aid in motion. Cartilage, a slippery smooth substance, covers most joints to assure an even, fluid motion of the joint. With joint arthritis, the cartilage may be damaged, narrowed and lost by a degenerative process or by inflammation making movement painful.
There are many different signs and symptoms of arthritis. If you have experienced pain, stiffness, or swelling around a joint for more than two weeks, you should visit your physician. Only a physician can determine if you are suffering from symptoms of arthritis. You need to find out which type you have in order to start the best course of arthritis treatment. These arthritis symptoms may come up suddenly or slowly over time and may also include sleeplessness, fatigue, depression, and muscle aches.
Many people will experience some difficulty functioning at home, at work or at play because of joint pain, stiffness and loss of motion regardless of the type of arthritis they have. Getting out of bed in the morning, buttoning buttons, writing, sewing, meal preparation, dressing, sleeping, walking, climbing stairs, arising from a chair or a toilet seat and attending to matters of personal hygiene may all be impaired to some degree by arthritis pain and joint stiffness. A lot of people find that impairment of mobility is more distressing to them than arthritis pain.
By going to the doctor immediately, you can start a treatment plan that will help protect your joints and lessen the arthritis pain. You can start to protect your joints by avoiding excess stress and perhaps by using assertive devices to help you around the house. Staying at your ideal weight will also help relieve pressure on your hips and knees. A major goal of all arthritis treatment is the preservation or improvement of daily tasks.