National Arthritis Awareness Month
Each year, May is recognized as National Arthritis Awareness Month to acknowledge that arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the United States, affecting one in five adults and 300,000 children. Arthritis can come in many different types, and raising awareness about these types, the diagnosis, and the treatment is the first step in fighting arthritis.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis is defined as painful swelling and/or stiffness in the joints, however “arthritis” is not a single disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis which can affect people of all gender, age, or race. The following are the most common types:
Such as osteoarthritis (OA), occurs when the cushioning between the bone wears away causing the bones to rub against each other. This can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness. Risks for OA include, excess weight, family history, age, or previous injury.
If the symptoms are mild to moderate, treatment can include heat/ice therapy, regular physical activity, weight loss, over-the counter medications, and avoiding repetitive movements that can aggravate the joint. If the symptoms are severe or cause limitation in movement, a joint replacement surgery may become necessary.
Such as rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis, occurs when your immune system dysfunctions and attacks your joints causing damage. This type of arthritis is most often linked to family history or environmental factors, such as smoking.
Treatment for inflammatory arthritis is important to start early to help decrease damage. Mediations known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) or steroids are often used to treat this type of arthritis.
Such as gout, occurs because a substance known as uric acid can build up in joint spaces leading to crystal formation. These crystals can cause swelling and pain. Specific medications can be used to lower uric acid levels if gout attacks happen frequently.
In order to diagnose arthritis, your health care practitioner will review your symptoms, perform a physical exam, and may do blood test or imaging. If the arthritis is inflammatory, you may be referred to a specialist known as a rheumatologist.
If you or a family member have joint pain, it is important to talk with your health care practitioner, as there are many things you can do to decrease damage to your joints and improve quality of life.
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