Chances are you or someone you know has complained of arthritis. Arthritis is an inflammation of joints and recognized as one of the pitfalls of aging. The CDC states about 54 million Americans are diagnosed with some form of arthritis. Although common with aging adults, it doesn't discriminate and can present itself at any time during one’s life. The condition can be debilitating and left untreated can cause a great deal of discomfort and pain.
What Causes Arthritis?
Arthritis is swollen joints and almost always accompanied by broken down cartilage. Unfortunately, the causes can arise from a previous injury or health condition. The reason why we see so many people over 65 with arthritis has a lot to do with wear and tear over time on the joints and loss of mobility. A physical exam performed by a doctor is needed to properly diagnose arthritis and sometimes involves image-based tests such as Xrays, or CT scans.
How Do I Know If I Have Arthritis?
Signs of arthritis include swelling at the joint most often with stiffness and limited range of use. In almost all cases there is pain and sometimes there is redness at the affected site. The important thing to know is that just because you have pain in the joint, don’t assume it is arthritis. See a doctor to rule out other possible causes such as bone spurs, breaks, or torn ligaments. The symptoms for each are very similar to arthritis.
Most medical experts advise on maintaining a healthy weight. Even carrying ten extra pounds can mean extra work on your joints increasing pain and discomfort levels. Other things to do involve staying active and eating foods that encourage bone and joint health by reducing inflammation. Good examples of good dietary choices are:
• Olive Oil
• Fish rich in Omega 3’s like Salmon, Cod, Halibut, Bass
• Nuts such as Walnuts and Almonds
• Garlic and Onions
• High Fiber Foods such as Beans
Many over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen or aspirin do well at keeping the aches and pains at bay. Together with regular icing and/or alternating heat, they may ease symptoms enough to get on with your scheduled activities. Certain activities such as swimming are recommended, unlike weight-bearing activities that can exacerbate arthritic conditions. In some instances, more advanced treatments may be required. Consulting a doctor will help determine what is best for you.
The Difference between Arthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
There are many different types of arthritis, but one of the more common is an autoimmune disorder known as rheumatoid arthritis. The basic distinction between regular arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is the immune system aggressively attacks the tissue known as synovium. This soft tissue (synovium) provides fluid to nourish the cartilage and lubricate joints in the body. Eventually, both the cartilage and the joint are destroyed. The exact causes of RA are unknown, but there are tests that can be given to determine if you have a genetic predisposition.
Can You Prevent Arthritis?
You can absolutely do your part to protect your joints against early arthritic symptoms. It goes without saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Here are some things you can do to lessen your risk:
• Stay at or below your recommended healthy weight
• Eat a healthy diet
• Get regular physicals
• Avoid injuries and falls as much as possible
• Discuss supplementing with vitamins and minerals with your doctor
• Stay mobile and active