May is Arthritis Awareness Month
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a group of diseases that involve damage to the body’s joints. A joint is a place where two bones meet, such as the elbow or knee. The word “arthritis” literally means “joint inflammation.” There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
What are symptoms of arthritis?
Common symptoms of arthritis include the following:
- joint pain, swelling, and/or redness
- joint stiffness (especially after periods of inactivity or rest)
- decreased range of motion
- difficulty moving around
- weight loss
What causes arthritis?
There is no specific cause for arthritis. Each type of arthritis has different contributing factors. Visit The Arthritis Foundation to learn more about different types of arthritis.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
Since there are over 100 different types of arthritis, there is not one method to diagnose it. Start by discussing symptoms with your primary care physician (PCP). After a history and physical, the PCP may order tests like blood work or x-rays. An evaluation with a specialist may also be recommended.
How is arthritis treated?
Treatment varies based on the type of arthritis. Medications are often prescribed to reduce pain or slow the progression of joint damage. Physical therapy (PT) and/or occupational therapy (OT) may be recommended. Surgery may also be recommended to repair joint damage or relieve pain. There are also alternative treatments available such as acupuncture, hydrotherapy, relaxation techniques, and massage therapy.
Lifestyle changes to manage arthritis:
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Follow a healthy diet- certain foods can increase or decrease inflammation in the body; learn about Foods that Fight Inflammation.
Learn more about managing arthritis:
- Arthritis Foundation: https://www.arthritis.org/
- National Institutes of Health (NIH)- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS): https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/arthritis