Arthritis

Arthritis can be distracting. Distressing. And disheartening. It can make you hesitant. It can frustrate — and even prevent — you from doing all the things you love to do. It is, quite literally, a pain. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

The good news is that you can live — and live well — with arthritis. You can get relief from its pain and its consequences. One of the best and effective ways to combat arthritis pain is simple: exercise. Regular exercise not only helps maintain joint function, but also relieves stiffness and decreases pain and fatigue. Other ways to ease arthritis pain include medications, physical therapy, joint replacement surgery, and some alternative or complementary procedures.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It starts with the deterioration of cartilage, the flexible tissue lining joints. The space between bones gradually narrows and the bone surfaces change shape. Over time, this leads to joint damage and pain. The symptoms of osteoarthritis usually develop over many years. The first sign is often joint pain after strenuous activity or overusing a joint. Joints may be stiff in the morning, but loosen up after a few minutes of movement. Or the joint may be mildly tender, and movement may cause a crackling or grating sensation.

Osteoarthritis was long considered a natural consequence of aging, the result of gradual wearing down of cartilage. The cause of osteoarthritis is much more complex than simple wear and tear. External factors, such as injuries, can initiate chronic cartilage breakdown. Inactivity and excess weight can also trigger the problem or make it worse. Genetic factors can affect how quickly it gets worse.

There is currently no cure for osteoarthritis. But there are effective treatments that can greatly improve a person's quality of life by relieving pain, protecting joints, and increasing range of motion in the affected joint. Therapy usually involves a combination of nondrug treatments such as heat, ice, and exercise; medication for pain and inflammation; and the use of assistive devices such as canes or walkers. In some cases, more aggressive treatment with surgery or joint replacement may be needed.

Arthritis Articles

Battling the big toe joint blues

The joint at the base of the big toe is called the metatarsophalangeal or MTP joint. Common conditions that affect the MTP joint include osteoarthritis, the wearing away of cartilage between the bones; bunions, a condition in which the first metatarsal bone juts outward, causing the phalanx bone to point inward toward the other toes; and gout, a type of inflammatory arthritis. Surgery is always a last resort for bunions or MTP arthritis. Gout may require over-the-counter painkillers or prescription medications. (Locked) More »

Answers to the top questions about cannabis extract

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating plant chemical that comes from hemp or marijuana. It is used to help reduce symptoms of many conditions, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, arthritis, diabetes, a muscle disorder called dystonia, seizures, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Crohn’s disease, chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia. CBD is considered generally safe and well tolerated, though it’s not clear yet how much CBD is safe and for how long, or if it is safe specifically for older adults. CBD has some known side effects and drug interactions. (Locked) More »

Put your best foot forward

Most people experience foot pain at some time during their lives, and the pain often becomes persistent. Years of daily wear and tear, a genetic predisposition to foot problems and injuries can lead to three common conditions: arch collapse (or flat feet), arthritis, or stress fractures. (Locked) More »

Easy ways to adapt exercises when you have arthritis

As helpful as exercise is for osteoarthritic joints, it can also lead to injury. One can avoid the risks by adapting exercise so that it does not place excessive force on the joints. That may mean ditching high-impact classes that include a lot of jumping and opting for low-impact classes or pool aerobics. Other exercise classes that help include tai chi and yoga. At the gym, a stationary bicycle or an elliptical machine is good for low-impact aerobic conditioning. When using dumbbells or weight machines, it helps to use lighter weights with more repetitions. (Locked) More »

Moving away from knee osteoarthritis

An estimated 10% of men ages 60 and older having symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or aspirin, and steroid injections can temporarily soothe arthritis pain and inflammation. But an easier and safer way to manage symptoms is to be more active as bones and cartilage need the stimulation of regular movement to stay healthy and pain free. More »

Are cracking joints a sign of arthritis?

The cracking and popping sounds in joints are often due to tendons or muscles moving over the joint or the popping of nitrogen bubbles normally in the joint space, and are not an early sign of arthritis. More »