Arthritis: How to Diagnose, Prevent and Treat

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Arthritis

Arthritis is not just a disease of aging; Arthritis is a disease of any age.

Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects joints. The most common type of Arthritis is osteoarthritis, which causes pain and stiffness in the joints. Other types of Arthritis include rheumatoid Arthritis, gout, psoriatic Arthritis, lupus, fibromyalgia, juvenile Arthritis, and septic Arthritis.

Arthritis is a painful condition that can affect people at any age. Nearly half of all Americans who are 65 years old or older have Arthritis. However, it’s more common among older adults.

If you’re experiencing joint pain, it’s essential to get checked out by a doctor. A physical therapist can also provide valuable information about Arthritis and other conditions that cause joint pain.

What are the causes of Arthritis?

Many different factors contribute to causing Arthritis. Some of these factors may be genetic, while others may be environmental. For example, smoking cigarettes has been linked with developing Arthritis. There are certain diseases such as diabetes and heart problems that increase your risk of getting Arthritis. And some medications can lead to Arthritis.

In addition to genetics and environment, lifestyle choices play a role in how often you develop Arthritis. If you exercise regularly, eat right, sleep well, avoid tobacco use, and drink alcohol moderately, then you’ll likely live longer than someone who doesn’t follow those healthy habits.

Symptoms of Arthritis?

The symptoms of Arthritis vary depending on what kind of Arthritis you have. Osteoarthritis typically starts slowly over time and worsens gradually. It usually involves one knee or hip first, but eventually, both knees and hips become affected. Rheumatoid Arthritis tends to start suddenly and worsen quickly. Gout attacks tend to occur when uric acid levels rise too high. Psoriasis tends to  flare up during times of stress. Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread muscle aches and pains that don’t go away even after resting. Lupus occurs mainly in women between ages 15 and 45. Juvenile Arthritis begins before puberty and lasts until adulthood. Septic Arthritis develops from infection.

Diagnosing Arthritis?

Your primary care physician will perform a complete medical history and examination to determine if you have Arthritis.

A diagnosis of Arthritis requires x-rays of the affected area. Your doctor might recommend blood tests to rule out infections like Lyme disease or hepatitis C. X-ray images help doctors see whether you’ve got bone spurs around your joints. These bony growths make it difficult for bones to move smoothly. They can pinch nerves and damage cartilage, leading to inflammation and pain.

Treatment Options for Arthritis?

While treatment options depend on the specific form of Arthritis you have, they generally fall into two categories – nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and a prescription medication called cortisone injections. Both treatments work by reducing swelling and relieving pain. NSAIDs reduce inflammation without affecting hormones or immune system function. Cortisone injections temporarily relieve pain by blocking chemicals within your body that produce pain signals.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy works best for mild cases of Arthritis. It would help if you took them only under close supervision by your doctor.

Overuse of this class of medicine can result in stomach ulcers, bleeding, kidney failure, and liver damage.

Cortisone Injections: Cortisone injections are used primarily to treat severe forms of Arthritis. The infusion itself causes an immediate reduction in joint stiffness and swelling. However, repeated injections cause long-term side effects, including thinning the skin, hair loss, increased appetite, weight gain, depression, insomnia, and mood swings. Patients must also monitor their blood pressure carefully since steroids raise blood pressure.

Prevention & Treatment of Arthritis?

You can do several things to prevent Arthritis. Exercise regularly, significantly strengthening exercises that build muscles around your joints. Eat foods rich in omega-three fatty acids and vitamin D3. Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Get plenty of rest each night. Drink enough water so that you’re always adequately hydrated. Keep your feet dry at all times. Wear shoes designed specifically for people with arthritic conditions. Use heat pads or heating pads to ease soreness. Try massage techniques to relax tense areas of the body. Take aspirin every day to keep your arteries clear and free of plaque buildup. Talk to your doctor about using glucosamine supplements to improve joint health.

If you already have Arthritis, try taking steps to control its progression. Reduce stress whenever possible. Stop smoking. Limit alcohol intake. Make sure your diet includes lots of fruits and vegetables. Stay active. Work closely with your doctor to find ways to manage your condition.

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