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

Juvenile Arthritis

Arthritis involves inflammation of the joints that causes pain and swelling. Although many people believe arthritis is a disease of old age, various forms of arthritis can affect just about anyone at any age. When arthritis occurs in children younger than age 16, it is called juvenile arthritis. According to the Arthritis Foundation, about 300,000 children in the United States have some form of the disease. The most common forms of juvenile arthritis are: There are several subcategories of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, including: (Locked) More »

Common physical problems that threaten your driving skills

There are many physical changes that can affect driving skills. For example, arthritis pain may make it hard to grip a steering wheel, get in and out of a car, or push the pedals; hearing loss can make it harder to detect hazards, such as an ambulance approaching an intersection. Driving assessment programs can help people find out if their conditions are impairing their road skills. The goal of such programs is to keep people in the driver’s seat, so that they can stay safe, mobile, and independent for as long as possible. (Locked) More »

Giving steroid injections a shot

People battling a flare-up of arthritis, bursitis, or tendinitis may find relief from a cortisone (or steroid) shot. This type of pain management is often used when over-the-counter and prescription medication or physical therapy no longer work. However, people need to be aware that a shot offers only short-term relief and not a cure. (Locked) More »

Is osteoarthritis reversible?

Osteoarthritis cannot be reversed, but symptoms can be reduced by exercising the affected area, and taking steps to control pain as advised by your doctor. More »

When is it time for a knee replacement?

Deciding whether knee replacement surgery is necessary depends on the symptoms, the extent of joint damage, how much the joint problems limit daily activities and how well other treatments are working. Consulting with an orthopedic surgeon or a rheumatologist can help people make the best decision. (Locked) More »

Getting a grip on hand osteoarthritis

The risk of hand osteoarthritis increases with age and can cause joint pain and stiffness that affects a person’s ability to effectively grasp and hold objects. It’s not possible to reverse hand osteoarthritis, or even slow its progression in most cases. Strategies to help manage flare-ups, include over-the-counter medications, hot and cold compresses, braces and splints, and hand physical therapy. More »

Look out for Lyme

Summer is prime time for Lyme disease, the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. Common symptoms include a rash at the site of the tick bite, fever, chills, fatigue, and muscle and joint aches. People can protect themselves by properly treating their clothes before going outside, doing thorough body checks afterward, and removing attached ticks. Antibiotics such as doxycycline are very effective at killing the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. (Locked) More »

Oh, my aching knees

Many women experience knee pain, which is often caused by one of three common conditions: patellofemoral pain syndrome, chronic degenerative meniscal tears, and early osteoarthritis. These conditions are common in older women. Most often symptoms produced by these conditions can be relieved by modifying your activities and physical therapy. But in some instances, surgery is warranted, but it’s typically only an option if other strategies haven’t proven effective. More »