Arthritis affects more than 50 million Americans and is one of the most common causes of disability in the U.S. There are more than 100 types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
This is the most common form of arthritis and caused by the wear and tear that happens when your joints are overused. It often happens over time in elderly people, but can also come on from joint injuries or obesity and is most common in joints that bear weight, such as knees, hips, feet, and the spine.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that attacks the different joints of the body. It causes inflammation and eventually severe joint damage if not treated properly, and typically affects the wrist and finger joints. RA symptoms can come on gradually or start suddenly, and are often more severe than those associated with Osteoarthritis. Smoking is believed to have some effect on the development of Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Although different types of arthritis show different symptoms, the most common are:
• Loss of function or reduced range of motion
• Body fatigue
Arthritis can be difficult to diagnose but paying attention to your body and visiting your doctor when any symptoms occur is the best way to manage and treat the disease. Also be aware that arthritis is hereditary and more common in women than men.
Managing Your Arthritis
Whether you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis or not, there are many easy ways to manage and reduce the symptoms:
• Be physically active- Research shows that physical activity, such as walking, biking, and swimming, can decrease pain, improve function, and delay disability. It’s recommended that people with arthritis get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.
• Maintain a healthy weight- You can reduce the likelihood of arthritis in your weight-bearing joints by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding excess pressure on your knees, hips, and feet.
• Talk with your doctor- The most effective way of diagnosing and treating arthritis is by visiting your doctor and talking about your body. Many doctors feel that aggressive treatment is needed within the first two years of the initial onset of the disease, meaning early detection is key.