Arthritis. We hear the word and typically think of elderly people who are experiencing aches and pains in their joints. The truth is that this is only a small part of the story. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arthritis affects 52.5 million adults, more than 1 in 5. It is a leading cause of disability in the United States and one of the most common chronic conditions in the nation.
So…what exactly is arthritis? What are the main symptoms? And how can it be better managed?
The Arthritis Foundation designated the month of May Arthritis Awareness Month. The goal of Arthritis Awareness Month is to answer questions like the ones above and to raise awareness of the key issues related to arthritis. Additionally, it is a hope that it will help people who suffer from arthritis become more aware of self-management options that can improve arthritis symptoms and quality of life.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition involving damage to the joints of the body. It can greatly impact the lives of the people who suffer from it. While there are hundreds of types of arthritis, there are two major types: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is also referred to as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. It can result from overuse of joints or be caused by demanding sports, obesity, or aging. Osteoarthritis is most common in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet, and spine. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis may include:
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s own defense system (the immune system) goes awry and attacks parts of the body, causing inflammation. The body’s immune cells now perceive their own tissues as a foreign intruder and begin attacking these normal joint tissues. Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to severe joint damage and even deformities. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can come on gradually or start very suddenly, and are often more severe, causing pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, stiffness, and possibly fever. Stiffness on arising in the morning, which may have started as a temporary nuisance, can begin to last for hours or even most of the day and is a hallmark of inflammatory arthritis.
Arthritis can be life-altering. Since there is no cure for arthritis at this time, people suffering from the disease must manage it to the best of their abilities. There are, however, many positive approaches to the management of arthritis:
For more resources and information, please visit the following websites: