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Analyzing Arthritis

Analyzing Arthritis

You may not know this, but May is Arthritis Awareness Month. I'm sure you've heard the term, and may even be familiar with the definition of arthritis, which is 'the swelling or inflammation of one or multiple joints in the body. But did you know that there are over 100 different types of arthritis? Or that it affects women more than twice as often as men in most conditions?

If not, don't worry, we are going look into a few of the major conditions and delve into their signs, symptoms, and treatment/management.

 


Types of Arthritis:


Osteoarthritis (OA)

The first and most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, and it affect over 32 million Americans. OA occurs as the cartilage meant to protect the joint begins to wear down. This most commonly happens to the knees, hips, and hands and the symptoms of course include pain, swelling, and stillness, which leads to less range of movement.


Unfortunately, it can be caused by many factors including, but not limited to: genetics, obesity, injury/overuse, gender (more women get diagnosed then men), and age.


There are many suggestions for the management of OA, as there is no 'cure'. They will depend on the location of the OA and also the underlying cause, if there is one. These can include: physical therapy, increased exercise, weight loss, prescribed medications from a physician, supportive equipment such as a cane or cast, and in some cases, surgery.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

This autoimmune/inflammatory disease, where the immune system is all mixed up and begins attacking healthy cells, affects many parts of the body at once. Due to the lack of cells the joints begin to swell and cause serious discomfort. It can also present as flair ups without any warning an can last days at a time, with chronic pain included. Other symptoms may include weight loss, inflammation and/or pain of several joints at a time, weakness, fatigue, and even fever/illness.


Again, it can be caused by many factors including, but not limited to: genetics, obesity, gender (women get diagnosed 2 to 3 more times then men), age. smoking, and even exposure to smoking at an early age.


RA is an intense form of Arthritis and treatments should be discussed with a physician prior to implementation, but may include: physical activity, weight maintenance, quit smoking, and check in with a physical therapist for treatment and education.

 

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a bit different than the prior mentioned arthritis conditions, as this condition causes pain all throughout the body. OA & RA can also lead to fibromyalgia. As well as the discomfort of pain throughout the body, it can also cause trouble sleeping/fatigue, as well as mental and emotion distress. 4 million individuals in the US have been diagnosed with this terrible condition.


The causes may include: sex (females are twice as likely as males to develop), genetics, obesity, repetitive injury, serious illness/infection, and even a stressful event and/or PTSD.


There are more forms of treatment for this condition, as it can affect the mind as much as the body. They may include, but are not limited to: prescribed medications, gentle aerobics and strengthening, support groups. stress reducing activities, and even cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

 

Those are a mere few of the major arthritis conditions, and unfortunately, there are more. Lupus is also a form of arthritis that causes severe inflammation. Childhood arthritis affects close to 300,00 US kids. These aren't fun facts, but they are important.


If you think that you may be affected by arthritis it is never too late to get diagnosed and increase your quality of life. Talk to your physician and start feeling better!

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