The Basics of Arthritis
Arthritis is a broad term that covers a group of over 100 diseases. It has everything to do with your joints — the places where your bones connect — such as your wrists, knees, hips, or fingers. But some types of arthritis can also affect other connective tissues and organs, including your skin.
About 1 out of 5 adults have some form of the condition. It can happen to anyone, but it becomes more common as you age.
With many forms of arthritis, the cause is unknown. But some things can raise your chances of getting it.
Arthritis mainly causes pain around your joints. You might also have:
The symptoms can be constant, or they may come and go. They can range from mild to severe.
More-severe cases may lead to permanent joint damage.
In osteoarthritis,the cushions on the ends of your bones, called cartilage, wear away. That makes the bones rub against each other. You might feel pain in your fingers, knees, or hips.
It usually happens as you age. But if underlying causes are to blame, it can begin much sooner. For example, an athletic injury like a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) or a fracture near a joint can lead to arthritis.
is a disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. This can damage the joint surface and underlying bone.
RA mostly targets your fingers, thumbs, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, feet, and ankles.
It can give you pain, swelling, stiffness, and trouble with moving. You may also have:
is another form of arthritis that can be very painful. Uric acid buildup in the body causes needle-like crystal deposits to form in your joints. You might notice lumps under your skin called tophi.
A lot of people see the first symptoms of gout in their big toe, which can get swollen, sore, red, and warm.
Other areas that gout can attack include:
Bouts of gout can come and go. The pain might become constant if you don’t get the condition treated.
You can treat it with medication, but you’ll also need to control your weight, limit alcohol, and cut down on meats and fish that have chemicals called purines.
Other forms include:
You might have occasional muscle or joint pain. That’s OK. But get help from your doctor if:
Don’t ignore joint pain. In some cases, it can cause damage that can’t be reversed, even with treatment. When in doubt, talk to your doctor.
Your doctor or an arthritis specialist called a rheumatologist will:
You doctor can help you manage your pain, prevent damage to the affected joint, and keep inflammation at bay.
She might recommend:
The types of medicines your doctor might suggest are:
Here’s what you can do to keep the condition in check.
U.S. National Library of Medicine: “Arthritis.”
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “Arthritis.”
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases: “What Is Gout?”
American College of Rheumatology: “Gout.”
nih Senior Health: “Rheumatoid Arthritis.”
Hint: Warming up first is crucial.
One idea? Eat fish to curb inflammation.
Can you keep your RA from progressing?
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The Basics of Arthritis
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