Arthritis means joint inflammation, but in public health, the term arthritis is used to describe a variety of rheumatic conditions. These conditions affect the joints, connective tissues, and other tissues that surround the joints. The severity of the disease depends on the actual condition.
Who is at risk for arthritis?
Non-preventable factors include:
- Age: The risk of developing arthritis increases with age.
- Gender: Arthritis is more common in women; about 60% of people who have arthritis are women.
- Genetics: Specific genes are associated with certain types of arthritis.
Preventable factors include:
- Weight: People who are overweight or obese may have more problems with arthritis in the knees.
- Injuries: Damage to the joint can increase the risk of developing arthritis in that joint.
- Infection: Some microbial agents can affect joints and increase the risk of developing arthritis.
- Occupation: Careers that involve heavy labor may increase the likeliness of developing arthritis.
What causes arthritis?
For many forms of arthritis, the cause of unknown. Specific infections can cause certain types of arthritis. Elevated uric acid levels lead to gout. The causes of arthritis are currently being studied based on lifestyle, genetics, and more.
What are the most common forms of arthritis?
- Rheumatoid arthritis
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
Symptoms vary depending on the type of arthritis. However, many people feel pain and stiffness in the joints sometimes accompanied by swelling. Since arthritis is a chronic disease, symptoms may come and go.
What should I do if I think I have arthritis?
If you have pain, swelling, and stiffness in your joints, call your healthcare provider for an appointment. Since there are multiple forms of arthritis, it is important to get a diagnoses to receive proper treatment. Treating arthritis early can help defend against worsening symptoms.
How do I prevent arthritis?
While some forms of arthritis are not preventable, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding overuse or injury to joints can reduce the risk of getting arthritis.
Is it possible to have more than one type of arthritis?
Yes, it is possible to have more than one type of arthritis at once.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
Arthritis is diagnosed based on medical history, symptoms, physical examinations, and bloodwork.
How is arthritis treated?
There are different types of treatment for maintaining arthritis. These include:
- Physical therapy
- Splints or joint assistive aids
- Patient education and support
- Weight loss
Self-management is an important step in maintaining arthritic pain and inflammation. Self-management programs are available.
What does self-management involve?
Self-management involves a variety of activities:
- Self-management strategies approved by your doctor
- Physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Protecting your joints
Is arthritis common?
Yes, about 54.4 million US adults have arthritis. The rate is expected to increase as the population ages.
What exercises should I do if I have arthritis?
Engaging in physical activity five or more days a week can reduce pain, maintain weight, and increase energy. Moderate physical activities such as walking, swimming, yoga, and riding a bike are recommended.
For inflammatory arthritis, flare-ups are common. It is better to restrict the range of motion (gently moving the joint as far as it will go) during flare-ups.
What if I experience pain while exercising?
Pain is common in the first 1-2 months after starting to exercise. However, most people find that they experience long-term relief if they continue to exercise. To reduce pain from physical activity:
- Reduce the frequency and duration of the activity until pain improves.
- Change to low-impact activities.
- Warm up before exercise and stretch afterwards.
- Do not push yourself too hard.
It’s time to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Sharp, stabbing pain that is constant
- Pain that causes you to limp
- Pain that lasts more than 2 hours after exercise
- Pain that is not relieved by rest, pain medication, or hot/cold packs
- Increases in swelling in the joints, and if they feel “hot” or look red
Nevada Arthritis Statistics (as of 2015)
- 22% of adults had arthritis; 24% of women and 19% of men
- 47% of adults over the age of 65 had arthritis
- 29% of adults with arthritis were also obese
- 33% of adults with arthritis were inactive
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