Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints (the parts where bones meet and move). It can affect any joint in your body. If your symptoms are mild, medications may be enough to reduce pain and swelling. For more severe arthritis, surgery may be needed to improve the condition of the joint.
Cartilage is a smooth substance that protects the ends of your bones. When you have arthritis, this cartilage breaks down and can no longer protect your bones. The bones rub against each other, causing pain and swelling. Over time, bone spurs (small pieces of rough or splintered bone) may develop, and the joint's range of motion becomes limited.
Some of the more common symptoms of arthritis include:
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis, but the most common are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Basically, rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory condition, and osteoarthritis is a condition that results from wear and tear on your joints. Following is more information on these conditions and tips for coping.
Osteoarthritis is a disease that causes the cartilage in your joints to break down. Cartilage is a smooth substance that protects the ends of your bones and helps your joints move. Osteoarthritis becomes more common as people get older. To diagnose this disease, your doctor will ask about your health history and perform an exam. X-rays may also be needed.
Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, with women tending to get it in their hands. Weight-bearing joints, such as the hip and knee, are often affected in both men and women. Some of the more common symptoms of this disease include:
If Surgery Is Needed
For people with severe joint damage, surgery can decrease pain and improve movement. Joint replacement is the most common surgery used to treat osteoarthritis. Joints in the knee, hip, and shoulder are replaced most often.
Osteoarthritis is an ongoing problem. But it doesn’t have to keep you from leading an active life. You can help control symptoms by exercising and watching your weight. Using special tools also helps make life easier. Be sure to see your doctor as requested for checkups and lab work.
What Is Rheumatoid
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that affects the lining of the joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis may damage joints so badly that they no longer function. This disease appears most often in young-adult to middle-age women. To diagnose rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor will ask about your health history and perform an exam. X-rays and blood tests may also be needed.
Rheumatoid arthritis can affect most joints. But people tend to feel it in their fingers and wrists. The elbows, knees, and balls of the feet are also common sites. This disease often affects the same joint on both sides of the body. Symptoms may include:
If Surgery Is Needed
For people with severe joint damage, surgery can help decrease pain and make it easier to use a joint. Joint replacement, usually of the hip or knee, is one of the most common surgeries for this condition. Other types of surgery may be done to help control problems in the hands or feet.
Living with Rheumatoid
Rheumatoid arthritis is an ongoing problem, but it doesn’t have to keep you from being active. You can help control it with exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Be sure to see your doctor as requested for checkups and lab work. At some point, your doctor may send you to a rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in arthritis and related diseases).
Visit the Arthritis Foundation for more information.
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