Arthritis: What You Need to Know

According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain, and loss of movement in the joint.”

Common symptoms of arthritis include:

  • Chronic pain at the joint affected by arthritis

  • Chronic fatigue that goes beyond being just tired or sleepy

  • Inflammation of the affected joint. Inflamed joints can become swollen, red, or tender.

Arthritis can affect many areas of the body. Most commonly people think of arthritis as affecting the hands, fingers, knees, or hip. However, arthritis can also be found in the ankles, feet, neck, shoulder, back, elbows, or wrist. With the potential for arthritis to hit nearly any part of the body, it is important to have a plan for living with arthritis.

Arthritis is often treated by reducing stress on the affected joints. Losing weight and avoiding painful activities are two of the easiest ways to reduce stress on the affected joints. Additional treatments can include the application of hot or cold packs to the affected areas, physical therapy, low-impact exercise, and the use of supportive devices such as canes. Should arthritis become severe, mobility devices such as scooters, stairlifts, and wheelchairs can be helpful or even necessary. Finally, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary to relieve pain.

There are several pain-relieving drugs on the market. Over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen can be taken to minimize pain. There are also various options for pain relief in the form of creams, rubs, or sprays. Your doctor can also prescribe pain relief medications.

The important thing when living with arthritis is to get a proper diagnosis. With over 100 types of arthritis, it is essential that you get more than just a diagnosis of “you have arthritis.” You need a proper diagnosis, in order to get the proper treatment plan in place. If you begin to experience the symptoms of arthritis, make an appointment to see your doctor.

More information on arthritis can be found on the Arthritis Foundation website.