This article answers some general questions about arthritis including how arthritis affects the body and some statistics on who gets arthritis.
What is arthritis?
The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation ("" means joint; "" means inflammation). It refers to more than 100 different diseases. These diseases usually affect the area in or around joints such as muscles and tendons. Some of these diseases can also affect other parts of the body including the skin and internal organs.
There are many types of arthritis. Most forms of arthritis are chronic which means they may last a lifetime.
Who gets arthritis?
Nearly 40 million Americans or one in every seven people have arthritis. It affects people of all ages but it most often comes on as a person gets older.
How does arthritis feel?
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and the 1 last update 2020/05/25 fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.
The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) is the most common type of arthritis; joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.
It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.
Many things affect how your joints and muscles feel. Pain may be caused by swelling, joint damage, muscle tightness or spasm. Muscles hurt after doing exercise or activities you aren''s knuckles can cause arthritis directly. However repeated injury of a joint or repeatedly causing it to swell can injure the cartilage and potentially lead to degenerative joint disease.
What are the warning signs of arthritis?
Pain from arthritis can be ongoing or can come and go. It may occur when you''s hard to do daily tasks you used to do easily, such as climbing stairs or opening a jar. Pain and stiffness may be more severe during certain times of the day or after you''s important to find out if you have arthritis and what type it is because treatments vary for each type. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help slow or prevent joint damage that can occur during the first few years for several types.
Only a doctor can tell if you have arthritis and what type it is. When you see your doctor for the first time about arthritis, expect at least three things to happen. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms examine you and take some tests or X-rays.
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for You can help your doctor by writing down information about your symptoms before your appointment. Bring your answers when you see your doctor.
Arthritis may limit how far or how easily you can move a joint. Your doctor may move the joint that hurts or ask you to move it. This is to see how far the joint moves through its normal range of motion. Your doctor may also check for swelling, tender points, skin rashes or problems with other parts of your body.
Finally your doctor may conduct some laboratory tests. These may include tests of your blood, muscles, urine or joint fluid. They also may include X-rays or scans of your body. The tests will depend on what type of arthritis your doctor suspects. They help confirm what type of arthritis your doctor suspects based on your medical history and physical exam and help rule out other diseases that cause similar symptoms.
The overall results from your medical history, physical exam and tests help your doctor match your symptoms to the pattern for a specific type of arthritis.
It may take several visits before your doctor can tell what type of arthritis you have. Symptoms for some types of arthritis develop slowly and may appear similar to other types in early stages. Your doctor may suspect a certain type of arthritis but may watch how the 1 last update 2020/05/25 your symptoms develop over time to confirm it.It may take several visits before your doctor can tell what type of arthritis you have. Symptoms for some types of arthritis develop slowly and may appear similar to other types in early stages. Your doctor may suspect a certain type of arthritis but may watch how your symptoms develop over time to confirm it.
What type of doctors treat arthritis?
Part of your treatment plan may involve working with different health-care specialists. Some common health-care professionals and their role in your treatment are described below. Most doctors make referrals to one of a group of health professionals with whom they work. But you too can ask your doctor to request medical services you think might help you.
Your family doctor may be an excellent source of medical care for your arthritis. Besides having your medication records, your family doctor already has your medical history, is familiar with your general physical health and knows of any past illnesses or injuries. All these facts will give your family doctor a head start in prescribing a treatment plan most suited to your needs.
If your arthritis affects many joints or other parts of the body or seems resistant to treatment, you may benefit from seeing a rheumatologist. This is a doctor with special training and experience in the field of arthritis. Your family doctor, the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation or the county medical society can refer you to a rheumatologist. You can also search for a rheumatologist on the American College of Rheumatology web site.
- Family physicians and general practitioners provide medical care for adults and for children with different types of arthritis. These doctors also can help you find a specialist if necessary.
- Internists specialize in internal medicine and in the treatment of adult diseases. They provide general care to adults and often help select specialists. Internists should not be confused with interns who are doctors doing a year'' actions and side effects. Pharmacists can tell you how different medicines work together, when and how to take your medications and can answer questions about over-the-counter medicines.
- Physical therapists can show you exercises to help keep your muscles strong and your joints from becoming stiff. They can help you learn how to use special equipment to move better. Some physical therapists also are trained to design personal fitness programs, such as prescribed muscle strengthening and range of motion exercises for cardiovascular health maintenance and weight control. They can also show you non-medication ways to control pain. If you''s role in treating or managing arthritis?
The patient is the most important member of the health care team.
The patient plays an important role in his or her medical care. The patient can contribute to the success of a treatment plan by:
- learning about arthritis
- following through with treatment
- reporting progress and setbacks to health team
- keeping a positive attitude
- developing relationships with the rest of the health care team
Keeping a positive attitude, though sometimes difficult, is an important ingredient in overcoming arthritis. Asking questions and finding out as much as you can about of arthritis and its treatment is important. So talk over your concerns with your doctor. If you still need more information (or if you have difficulty talking to your doctor), ask the nurse, physical therapist, social worker, occupational therapist to help you find answers to your questions.
What are the types of arthritis?
Arthritis most often affects areas in or around joints. Joints are parts of the body where bones meet such as your knee. The ends of the bones are covered by cartilage, a spongy material that acts as a shock absorber to keep bones from rubbing together. The joint is enclosed in a capsule called the synovium. The synovium''t know which type you have, call your doctor or ask during your next visit. Some common types of arthritis are described below.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It affects many of us as we grow older. It is sometimes called degenerative arthritis because it involves the breakdown of cartilage and bones. This causes pain and stiffness. Osteoarthritis usually affects the fingers and weight-bearing joints including the knees, feet, hips and back. It affects both men and women and usually occurs after age 45. Treatments include pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise, heat or cold, joint protection, pacing your efforts, self-help skills and sometimes surgery.
Fibromyalgia affects muscles and their attachments to bone. It results in widespread pain and tender points which are certain places on the body that are more sensitive to pain. It also may result in fatigue, disturbed sleep, stiffness and sometimes psychological distress. Fibromyalgia affects mostly women. It is common and often misdiagnosed. Treatments include exercise, relaxation techniques, pacing your activities and self-help skills.
In rheumatoid arthritis, a fault in the body''t get relief?
- What side effects should I watch for?
- What other drugs should I not take with it?
Regular exercise is important to keep you moving and independent. Exercise helps lessen pain, increases movement, reduces fatigue and helps you look and feel better. Three types of exercises can help people with arthritis.
- Range-of-motion exercises reduce stiffness. They keep your joints flexible by moving them to their fullest extent. Most people should do these exercises daily.
- Strengthening exercises increase or maintain muscle strength. Strong muscles help keep your joints stable and make it easier to move. Most people should do these exercises daily or every other day.
- Endurance exercises build fitness. They help keep your heart healthy and control your weight. You should exercise for a total of 20 to 30 minutes three times a week at a pace that raises or sustains your heart rate. Most people can build your endurance by exercising for shorter periods of time several times a day.
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Plan your exercises at times of the day when you have less stiffness or pain. Start slowly. Build up the amount of time you exercise and the number of repetitions you do. Exercise at a level that allows you to talk comfortably during the activity. If pain from exercise lasts more than two hours you may have done too much. Reduce your level of activity next time. Stop exercising right away if you have chest pains severe dizziness or shortness of breath or if you feel for 1 last update 2020/05/25 sick to your stomach.Plan your exercises at times of the day when you have less stiffness or pain. Start slowly. Build up the amount of time you exercise and the number of repetitions you do. Exercise at a level that allows you to talk comfortably during the activity. If pain from exercise lasts more than two hours you may have done too much. Reduce your level of activity next time. Stop exercising right away if you have chest pains severe dizziness or shortness of breath or if you feel sick to your stomach.
Heat and cold
Using heat or cold over joints or muscles may give you short-term relief from pain and stiffness. You can also use heat or cold to help prepare for exercise. Some people feel better using heat; others prefer cold.
Heat helps relax aching muscles. Sources of heat include heating pads, hot packs, hot tubs or heated pools. Cold numbs the area so you don''s important to use heat and cold safely. Don''t use heat with rubs or creams since this can result in skin burns.
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for For more information on using heat and cold correctly talk to your physical therapist.
Pacing yourself saves energy by switching periods of activity with periods of rest. Pacing helps protect your joints from the stress of repeated tasks and helps reduce fatigue.
Alternate heavy or repeated tasks with easy ones. Change tasks often so you don''s new in arthritis research?
Progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research today that the media often report new findings before the medical journal with the information reaches your doctor's office. As a result, you need to know how to evaluate reports on new arthritis research.
Arthritis researchers are looking at four broad areas of research. These include causes, treatments, education and prevention.
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Researchers are learning more about certain conditions. For example in osteoarthritis, researchers are looking for signs of early destruction of cartilage and ways to rebuild it. For rheumatoid arthritis and other types that involve inflammation, researchers are trying to understand the steps that lead to inflammation and how it can be slowed or stopped. An initial study suggests that fibromyalgia affects more older people than originally thought and often may be overlooked in this group. Your doctor can tell you about other new research findings. If you would like to take part in arthritis research, ask your doctor for a referral to a study in your area.
Many people help make arthritis research the 1 last update 2020/05/25 possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.Many people help make arthritis research possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.
Arthritis Curehow to Arthritis Cure for Credits
Some of this material may also be available in an Arthritis Foundation brochure.
Adapted from several pamphlets originally prepared for the Arthritis Foundation, one of which is by Beth Ziebell Ph.D. This material is protected by copyright.