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

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. (Locked) 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 »

Easing the ache

Osteoarthritis can be a debilitating condition, particularly when it affects the knee. People with this condition may not only have to limit their activity, but may need to restrict their social interaction because they are unable to walk and travel easily. Managing the condition can include a number of options, including medications to reduce pain; nondrug options, such as physical activity and physical therapy; and in severe cases, surgery to replace the affected joint. More »

Arthritis Associated With Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers to two disorders — Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis — marked by inflammation of the intestinal tract. They are thought to be autoimmune disorders in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the intestinal tract, and other parts of the body, although this is unproven. Some people with inflammatory bowel disease have a type of arthritis that is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in some ways. However, there are some important differences. With the arthritis associated with IBD, inflammation tends to involve only a few, large joints and it tends not to involve both sides of the body equally. For example, it might affect the knee on one side and the ankle on the other. In rheumatoid arthritis, more joints, especially small ones in the hand and wrist are involved and joints on both sides of the body are affected equally. (Locked) More »

Infectious Arthritis

Infectious arthritis is joint pain, soreness, stiffness, and swelling caused by an infectious agent such as bacteria, viruses or fungi. These infections can enter a joint various ways: Once the infection reaches the joint, it can cause symptoms of joint inflammation that is often accompanied by fever and chills. Depending on the type of infection, one or more joints may be affected. (Locked) More »

Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis is an uncommon disease that causes inflammation of the joints and, in many cases, other areas, particularly the urinary tract and eyes. It is triggered by an infection, usually by a sexually transmitted organism or by certain gastrointestinal bacteria. The most common infection causing reactive arthritis is the sexually transmitted disease (STD) chlamydia. Reactive arthritis can also be caused by gastrointestinal infection from bacteria such as salmonella, shigella, campylobacter or Yersinia, infections that can cause diarrhea and vomiting. These bacteria often are found in contaminated food or water. While these infections are common, reactive arthritis is not. Scientists believe that people who develop reactive arthritis have a certain genetic makeup. Supporting the theory that genetic makeup is a risk factor, about 50% of people with reactive arthritis carry a gene called HLA-B27, compared with 8% of the general population. Reactive arthritis is thought to be an autoimmune disorder, which means the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissues. In this case, the immune system is jolted into action by the infection but continues attacking after the infection is gone. (Locked) More »