Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the U.S. About 50 million adults and 300,000 children manage some form of arthritis
Imaging exams can help your healthcare provider get a clear picture of your bones, joints and soft tissues. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound can reveal:
- Muscle/ligament issues
What are the risk factors for arthritis?
Some factors make you more likely to develop arthritis, including:
- Age: The risk of arthritis increases as you get older.
- Lifestyle: Smoking or a lack of exercise can increase your risk of arthritis.
- Sex: Most types of arthritis are more common in women.
- Weight: Obesity puts extra strain on your joints, which can lead to arthritis
Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. There are many other types of arthritis however we will only discuss Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilage — the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint — to break down.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the lining of joints.
The most common signs and symptoms of arthritis involve the joints. Depending on the type of arthritis, signs and symptoms may include:
- Inability to move joints well
Osteoarthritis: is the most common type of arthritis, which involves wear-and-tear damage to a joint's cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
Osteoarthritis also causes changes in the bones and deterioration of the connective tissues that attach muscle to bone and hold the joint together. If cartilage in a joint is severely damaged, the joint lining may become inflamed and swollen.
Rheumatoid arthritis: In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joints causing, pain, swelling, and inflammation.
How is arthritis treated?
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are treatments that can help you manage the condition. Your treatment plan will depend on the severity of the arthritis, its symptoms and your overall health. Conservative (nonsurgical) treatments include:
Medication: Anti-inflammatory and pain medications may help relieve your arthritis symptoms. Some medications, called biologics, target your immune system’s inflammatory response. A healthcare provider may recommend biologics for your rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis.
Physical therapy: Rehabilitation can help improve strength, range of motion and overall mobility. Therapists can teach you how to adjust your daily activities to lessen arthritic pain.
Therapeutic injections: Cortisone shots may help temporarily relieve pain and inflammation in your joints. Arthritis in certain joints, such as your knee, may improve with a treatment called viscosupplementation. It injects lubricant to help joints move smoothly.
Healthcare providers usually only recommend surgery for certain severe cases of arthritis. These are cases that have not improved with conservative treatments. Surgical options include:
Fusion surgery-joining 2 parts together to reduce pain
How can arthritis be prevented?
You can lower your chances of developing arthritis by:
- Avoiding tobacco products.
- Doing low-impact, non-weight bearing exercise.
- Maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Reducing your risk of joint injuries.
Since there is no cure for arthritis, most people need to manage arthritis for the rest of their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right combination of treatments to reduce symptoms. One of the biggest health risks associated with arthritis is inactivity. If you become sedentary from joint pain, you may face a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.
What can you do?
Changing your routine can make living with arthritis easier. Adjust your activities to lessen joint pain. It may help to work with an occupational therapist (OT), a healthcare provider who specializes in managing physical challenges like arthritis.
An OT may recommend:
- Adaptive equipment, such as grips for opening jars.
- Techniques for doing hobbies, sports or other activities safely.
- Tips for reducing joint pain during arthritic flare-ups.
If you find that certain types of weather make your arthritis worse, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage your symptoms. Dressing warmly, exercising inside or using heat therapy may help relieve your pain.
To Your Good Health, Cathy