Arthritis is a health condition that millions of people have been diagnosed with. Every year thousands of new patients are told by their doctors that they have arthritis. Recognizing the symptoms of arthritis is the first step to managing this condition.
Two Sets of Symptoms
Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage layer between bones starts to break down. In normal circumstances, cartilage cushions a joint and allows it to move easily. An arthritic joint is one where the cartilage cushion is affected by some degree of deterioration. Precisely what causes the cartilage to break down is not currently known, though genetic factors may play a role. Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Pain at the end of the day or after activity
- Stiffness that is relieved by movement
- Joint stiffness or soreness after inactivity or after prolonged activity
Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that can affect the body’s organs as well as joints. It is important that a doctor make this diagnosis so that appropriate management solutions can be explored. This condition can have widely varying symptoms though a few are known to be especially common. These include:
- Joint tenderness, swelling, and redness
- Joint stiffness in the morning
- Many joints affected, usually the same joints on each side of the body
More Than the Aches and Pains of Age
Arthritis is frequently associated with growing older and though the condition is most frequently diagnosed in older adults, it is not simply a by-product of the aging process. People in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s can experience the symptoms of arthritis but not recognize them as such. People who frequently experience aching joints, pain, stiffness, and swelling should talk to their doctor. There are steps that can be taken to prevent arthritis from getting worse.
Effective Arthritis Management
The joint pain associated with osteoarthritis can be addressed with weight management strategies. The cartilage in joints of the hips, knees, ankles and feet can be preserved by losing even a few pounts. Though damage to the cartilage cannot necessarily be reversed, the arthritic condition can be prevented from worsening.
Physical activity in general is a good management strategy. Not only can activity be part of a weight loss plan, it can help keep joints flexible and muscles strong. Your doctor may recommend low impact physical activity, such as swimming. These types of exercises will give you all the benefits without the kind of pain that can be caused by running or playing sports.
Making safety a habit is another way to preserve joint health. Joints with an injury history are more likely to develop arthritis; if a joint already has some cartilage damage then an injury can make the arthritic condition much worse. Be sure to use safety gear when biking, playing sports, or doing home improvement projects. Knee pads, braces, and other items will help prevent injury and preserve joint health.
Though the joint pain, stiffness, and swelling associated with this condition can make people feel reluctant to pursue all their favorite pastimes, with proper management arthritis does not have to be an obstacle to living a full and fulfilling life.