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

Am I too young for a knee replacement?

Doctors often want to wait until a person is 60 or older to perform knee replacement surgery, because these artificial joints typically only last 15 to 20 years. But some people opt to have the procedure sooner if knee pain is causing significant disability. (Locked) More »

Choosing a home exercise machine

Home exercise machines such as treadmills, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and rowing machines can make it easier to get regular, heart-protecting, aerobic exercise. Certain machines may be more appropriate for different people, depending on their history of joint or muscle trouble or other health problems. For those with knee or hip arthritis or balance issues, a stationary bike may be best, while treadmills and elliptical machines are best for people concerned about preventing osteoporosis. More »

Did my diet cause my gout?

Diet alone is unlikely to cause a type of painful arthritis known as gout, but can trigger an attack in someone who already has the condition. (Locked) More »

Pain conditions are more common in women

Women are disproportionately affected by conditions that cause chronic pain, but they sometimes have difficulty getting a definitive diagnosis as to what is causing their pain and may be less likely to receive appropriate treatments even when they do. (Locked) More »

The new-old way to treat gout

The American College of Rheumatology recently released updated guidelines on how to best treat gout and prevent future flare-ups. They included first-line treatments like anti-inflammatory medications and ice therapy. A combination of diet and lifestyle changes and medications (including urate lowering therapy, or ULT) —is typically recommended if attacks recur or become chronic. (Locked) More »

Can home remedies help my sciatica?

There are numerous home remedies that can help ease pain associated with sciatica, including using hot or cold compresses, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and moving and stretching. (Locked) More »

What is chronic inflammation?

Chronic inflammation occurs when the immune system is over-stimulated all the time. It’s not clear why chronic inflammation develops in the body, but it is linked to many chronic conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. More »

5 Internet recommendations for joint pain: Do they work?

Some methods touted on the Internet to relieve arthritis pain may do little to help with joint problems, even though they seem sensible. Music therapy and meditation may provide temporary distractions to pain. Eating a high-fiber diet can help with loss of excess weight, which can reduce osteoarthritis symptoms in weight-bearing joints, but there’s no evidence it will reduce arthritis inflammation. Therapeutic massage can make sore muscles, tendons, and joints feel better, at least temporarily. Getting more sleep is important to overall health but probably won’t relieve arthritis pain. (Locked) More »