How to manage your arthritis

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Arthritis is something we all want to avoid, but it’s increasingly common as we age. It’s a painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, and, according to the Arthritis Foundation, it’s not very well understood. They mention that there are over 100 different types of arthritis!

Who can be affected by arthritis?

Well, just about anybody. Over 50 million US adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. It’s more common among women and the elderly.

arthritis infographic.png

Source Penn Medicine

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is caused by the reduction in the amount of cartilage tissue. This can be due to normal wear and tear due to daily activities, but also by infection or injury. It has been found that you are more at risk for Osteoarthritis if you have a family history of the disease.

For an autoimmune disorder like Rheumatoid Arthritis, the cause is unknown.

What are the first symptoms of arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

If you have continued pain like this, it could be due to arthritis and it’s best to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

There are different ways to pinpoint whether or not you have arthritis, and, if you do, which kind it is.

Doctors will use:

  • Lab tests (blood, joint fluid, urine)
  • X-Rays
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound

How is arthritis treated?

Although there is no cure, many medications have been developed to help reduce the severity and the pain.

These medications include:

  • Analgesics- Reduce pain, but no inflammation
  • NASIDs- Reduce pain and inflammation
  • DMARDs – Use to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • Biologic response modifiers – Target protein molecules
  • Counterirritants – Creams and ointments to reduce pain in aching joints
  • Corticosteroids – Reduce inflammation, suppresses the immune system

Surgery is another option that a doctor may suggest.

Types of surgeries include:

  • Joint fusion- Used on smaller joints. Remove the end of two bones and then lock the ends together
  • Joint repair- Smooth or realign joint surfaces to reduce pain
  • Joint replacement – Removes a damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. Common for knees and hips

Additional Arthritis Resources

The Arthritis Foundation

MedlinePlus.gov | Arthritis 

 

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