Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints - the places where your bones connect.  It can affect any joint in the body but is most common in the hands, wrists, knees, and elbows. There are over 100 types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.  Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage - the tissue that covers the ends of bones where joints are formed - breaks down.  Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder and happens when the immune system attacks the lining of the joints. Gout occurs  when too much uric acid crystallizes and deposits in the joints causing pain and inflammation.  About 1 in 4 adults have some form of this condition and while the disease can happen to anyone, it is more common as you age. 

 

 

Symptoms

           

Those with arthritis often experience:

  • One or more joints that are swollen, stiff, and/or painful

  • Redness and warmth around joints

  • Tenderness

  • Decreased range of motion

 

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, can be constant, or may come and go.

           

Causes

 

It is unclear as to what causes arthritis, but the following may increase the likelihood of the disease:

  • Gender.  Women are more at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.  Gout is found most commonly in men.

  • Age.  The risk of arthritis increases with age.

  • Family history.  Some genes are linked to different types of arthritis and you may be more likely to develop the disease if a parent or sibling has it.

  • Previous injuries.  If a person has injured a joint in the past, they are more likely to experience arthritis symptoms in that joint.

  • Weight.  Carrying extra weight, like those with obesity, puts stress on the joints.  This can lead to a higher risk of developing arthritis, particularly in the knees, hips, and spine.

  • Infection.  Bacteria, fungi, or viruses can infect joints and trigger inflammation.

  • Work.  Spending too much time on your knees or bending excessively might bring on osteoarthritis faster and sooner.          

 

Treatments

 

There are many treatment options available that can help reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.

 

  • Therapies, including stretching, massage, acupuncture, and hydrotherapy.

  • Self-care such as physical exercise, weight loss, yoga, heat pad, and ice packs.

  • Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB), or naproxen sodium (Aleve).

  • Replacement surgeries such as hip, knee, and joint replacement.

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