The Basics Of Arthritis

Arthritis signals people in various ways. Joints might crack suddenly, like knees upon standing. Other joints may be stiff and creak. Maybe pain occurs, like when trying to open a jar. What is it all about? Let us look at the fundamentals and learn more.

Arthritis actually means”joint inflammation” and has over 100 related conditions or type / forms of disorder. Left untreated, it can advance, resulting in joint damage that can’t be undone or reversed. So early detection and treatment are important.

The two most common kinds of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although both have similar symptoms, both happen for different reasons. When joints are overused and misused, the results can be OA.

What happens is that the cushioning cartilage that protects the joint breaks down, resulting in the bones rubbing together. This generally happens in the knees, but can be found in the hips, spine and hands often, too. And only in later stages will a person most often feel pain, after quite a bit of cartilage is lost.

The next kind, RA, describes the body’s immune system attacking joint tissue. Still not fully understood in the medical community, this condition most often starts in someone’s hands, feet and wrists. Then it advances to shoulders, elbows and hips.

Similar symptoms include pain, stiffness, fatigue, weakness, slight fever and inflamed tissue lumps under the skin. And both OA and RA generally develop symmetrically, i.e. affecting the same joints on both the left and right sides of the body.

A difference in OA and RA to notice is with swelling. With RA, people report “soft and squishy” swelling. While with OA, people report “hard and bony” swelling.

There’s no specific age for arthritis sufferers. While it can affect every age group, it seems to concentrate on people over 45 years old.

And while neither gender is immune, a reported 74 percent of OA cases (or just over 15 million) occur with women and a slightly lower percentage of RA cases occur with women.

People with excess weight tend to develop OA, especially in the knees when reaching over 45 years old. However, losing weight can turn the odds around almost by half.

Regular activity combined with exercise also reduces risk, strengthening joint muscles and reducing joint wear.

There are lots of ways to efficiently manage arthritic pain now to find relief. Accessible are arthritic diets, exercise programs, over-the-counter and prescription drugs, relaxation and positive emotion coping methods. Also available are surgeries, supplements, home remedies, herbal and other alternative therapies. When arthritis is suspected, it would be smart to seek a medical opinion first. Then as time and resources permit, take a look at the other alternatives.