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

8 tips for pain-free summer travel

Tips to avoid arthritis pain during travel include packing light, using wheeled luggage, taking along pain relievers, and bringing accessories that can make travel more comfortable. (Locked) More »

Staying active when it's hard to move

Experts recommend getting 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week, but it can be hard for people with arthritis or other mobility-limiting conditions to get that exercise. A number of exercise techniques can help people with reduced mobility, including pedaling on recumbent bicycles, doing seated exercises with weights, and practicing chair yoga. (Locked) More »

Double trouble: Coping with arthritis and heart disease together

People with heart disease and arthritis face challenges with regard to exercise—which is important for both conditions—and medications. Swimming, recumbent biking, and walking are good choices for most people with heart disease and arthritis, who tend to be less active than people with either disease alone. Certain medications to ease arthritis pain, especially nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers, can interact dangerously with drugs for heart conditions. Avoiding certain drugs or taking them at different times may be needed. (Locked) More »

Easy fixes for aching shoulders

Shoulder pain may be caused by tendinitis, inflammation, neck pain, whiplash, arthritis, and rotator cuff tears. These conditions may occur from overuse of the shoulder. The cause may be something simple, such as reaching up when hanging curtains. Shoulder pain doesn’t always lead to surgery. Physical therapy can help strengthen the shoulder and reduce pain in 90% of cases. Physical therapy will focus on three goals: increasing your range of motion, strengthening the shoulder muscles, and stretching the muscles and ligaments to keep them supple. (Locked) More »

Understanding cardiovascular pain

The chest pain that can result from heart disease (angina or a heart attack) can mimic the pain caused by heartburn or pericarditis, or inflammation of the tissues around the heart. Likewise, peripheral artery disease may be mistaken for arthritis of the knees, hip, or back. Understanding the underlying causes, symptoms, and duration of each of these conditions makes it easier to distinguish between them—and deal with the pain calmly and safely. (Locked) More »

Insoles for arthritic knees

A recent research review published in The Journal of the American Medical Association has found shoe inserts do little-if anything-to relieve knee arthritis pain. (Locked) More »