Arthritis is broadly defined as an inflammation of joints. While there are more than a hundred different types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the most common forms of a condition often resulting in pain ranging from mild and sporadic to severe and chronic. Management of arthritis usually involves some type of physical therapy, medication, and lifestyle adjustments such as getting regular exercise and eating foods that naturally fight inflammation.
While there are many possible causes of arthritis, the most common reason for the condition is the normal wear and tear of cartilage, the firm, flexible tissue that connects your joints. A reduction in the amount of cartilage means that your joints are subjected to increased pressure and stress. Some forms of arthritis may occur at higher rates in families with a history of the condition.
Considered an autoimmune disorder, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an attack on your immune system that affects soft tissue in your joints. Bone spurs can also form around the affected joint and contribute to pain. Affecting nearly 30 million Americans, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that can have multiple contributing factors, including:
- Age-related wear
- Excess weight
- Genetic defects
- Excessive stress on joints
- Joint irregularities
Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling are the symptoms commonly associated with all forms of arthritis. Range of motion and flexibility may also be affected as the arthritis progresses, although functioning can improve and some symptoms may lessen in severity over time with various pain management techniques. You may also experience noticeable swelling and redness around your joints.
Symptoms associated with RA can include a loss of appetite related to inflammation affecting digestion. Some people have symptoms that are more noticeable in the morning or when first waking up. RA may also cause fatigue or a slight fever. Signs and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis and similar forms of arthritis may include:
- Pain aggravated with movement
- Tenderness around joints
- Joint stiffness that varies in intensity
- Grating sensations when joints are functioning
As part of your treatment for arthritis, you may undergo a functional capacity evaluation, a series of tests to determine how you function under various conditions. Your pain level will be monitored during such activities as sitting, standing, bending, and walking to identify trigger points and assess your overall ability to function to determine the approach to treatment most likely to be beneficial for you. Arthritis is often managed with a combination of treatments, including:
- Analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications
- Located-specific injections
- Physical therapy
- Stress reduction techniques
- Acupuncture, yoga, and other alternative therapies
There is no definitive “cure” for arthritis, especially with RA, although a focus on nutrition and wellness can certainly help manage symptoms for many people living with some form of the condition. Contact us today and seek treatment for arthritis as soon as symptoms begin to appear, even if it’s only mild discomfort. The sooner your arthritis is diagnosed and contributing factors are identified, the more you’re likely to benefit from treatment.