Do you experience body aches, joint pains, and muscle stiffness? Does it occur in one spot or multiple areas in your body? Does the pain feel worse when the weather is colder? These annoyances and discomforts are inevitable with age. If you are suffering persistently from aches, pains, and stiffness, however, then it might be indicative of arthritis.
Arthritis is the result of the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. The condition affects each person differently and its causes and solutions also vary.
The body’s joints consist of interconnected bones. Holding these bones together are the cartilage, ligaments, and fluids. When arthritis attacks, however, everything around the joints become inflamed and painful, thus arthritis can be a debilitating disease.
Who Is Prone to Arthritis?
Contrary to popular belief, arthritis is no longer a disease just for the elderly. While it’s no surprise that most adults over 65 experience this painful physical ordeal due to a regression that comes with age, people as young as 18 years old might also develop the condition.
In 2015, experts found that 91 million adults aged 18 to 64 years old suffered from the condition in America. It has been shown that young people develop arthritis due to obesity or body stress from playing sports or exercising forcefully. It was also observed that old people are not usually aware that the pain they are feeling is already some form of arthritis and this is because the condition comes in many forms.
Types of Arthritis and Their Symptoms
Arthritis can be categorized into a hundred different types but the most common forms are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Osteoarthritis (OA) – The elderly almost always develop osteoarthritis, where the pain manifests in the hips, spine, knees, ankles, and feet. People with weight problems, regardless of age, are also prone to OA.
Osteoarthritis happens due to the wear and tear of the cartilage that covers the bones. The condition worsens with increased body weight, which put additional stress on your joints.
At least 30 million adults received treatment for OA in 2013 in the U.S.
- What happens if you have OA? You might feel your joints swelling and you might have a hard time walking, climbing the stairs, sitting down or squatting. Your joints might also feel warm. You might find that resting causes muscle stiffness.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) – A type of autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis causes the joints to weaken due to bacterial or viral attacks. RA pain starts out gradually, sometimes occurring every couple of years. The condition either fluctuates or lingers before spreading out to various body areas if left untreated.
Approximately 75 percent of patients with RA are women and the condition can develop as early as 30 years old.
- What happens if you have RA? You might feel stiffness, swelling and pain in your jaw, neck, shoulder, arms, hands, wrists, knees, ankles, and feet. RA always occurs in multiple and symmetrical areas. If one side of your shoulders aches, the other side will likely be painful and stiff as well. You might also feel fatigued as the pain intensity fluctuates (goes from high to low and then high again). It doesn’t go away on its own, which might render you unable to function normally.
Is Arthritis Preventable, Curable or Manageable?
Since factors that cause arthritis range from age, genetics, family medical history, gender and lifestyle, prevention isn’t always easy. Most adults with chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart conditions, also end up with arthritis and there is no known and proven cure that will completely treat the disease.
Unfortunately, those experiencing the onset of arthritis might tend to ignore the pain until it worsens.
Pain Management Tips
Aside from taking prescribed medications, the following tips can also help manage the condition:
- Get regular exercises, such as walking around the neighborhood block or doing stretches like yoga, to improve mobility and keep the joints flexible.
- Do aerobic exercises to improve body strength and stamina.
- Take vitamin C to help combat potential inflammation.
- Cover up when it’s cold and don’t forget to wear gloves for arthritis.
- Use warming pads to loosen stiff joints.
- Maintain a healthy diet that includes fruits, vegetables, fish, and dairy.
- Avoid foods with high fat, salt, or sugar content.
When Should You Visit a Doctor for Arthritis?
Anytime arthritis becomes bothersome is a good time as any to see a doctor, especially when the symptoms do not improve. If pain from arthritis comes with fever, it requires immediate medical attention.
As with any condition, early intervention and care greatly improve your chances of living through the disease. Immediate attention also mitigates the body damage that arthritis might cause, so you might still be able to enjoy an active lifestyle.