Aging > Arthritis
Arthritis is a chronic disease that affects joints and muscles. Inflammation, joint pain and limitation of movement are all symptoms of the disease. One of the most common diseases in the United States, one out three Americans is affected by some type of the disease. Though most common in aging individuals, arthritis can also affect younger people. However, most people over age fifty have some signs of arthritis.
Arthritis occurs when the cartilage that covers a joint is damaged or lost due to inflammation or the natural degenerative processes of aging. This hinders fluid motion in the joints, leading to pain and loss of motion.
There are several different types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, and is the most common form of arthritis. This type develops when bone rubs against bone after the cartilage that surrounds the bones degenerate. Joints that carry weight are most often affected by this type.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis, typically first appearing in younger people from 25-50. It mostly occurs in the fingers, wrists and arms, and it typically happens to the same joints on both sides of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis causes pain, swelling and stiffness. In addition to affecting joints, it can also affect the lungs or heart, and can cause overall fatigue in many patients.
The final type of arthritis, fibromyalgia, consists of chronic fatigue and muscle pain. Typically, patients suffering from this type of arthritis have tender points under the skin that hurt when pressed. Unlike the other forms of arthritis, fibromyalgia affects muscles, ligaments and tendons rather than joints.
The beginning signs of arthritis include swelling or stiffness in the joints that lasts two weeks or more. This may lead to decreased functioning in daily activities as the aging process continues. However, if found early, doctors can help lessen pain and protect joints from further deterioration. Proper weight management is important for the treatment process, as maintaining an ideal weight places less stress on joints, especially the hips and knees.
There are many effective ways to treat and manage arthritic pain. A good exercise program with joint-specific exercises can limit stiffness and increase range of motion. Strength-training exercises are also typically including the regimen. Good posture is also essential in treating and sometimes preventing arthritis. Varying positions when performing repetitive tasks can help limit stress on particular joints. Applying heat and cold to sore joints is also and effective way to relieve joint pain.
Anti-inflammatory drugs are also used for pain relief. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen are somewhat effective, but often times prescription anti-inflammatories are given for severe cases.
For more Information on Arthritis and more check out our page General Arthritis.