Tip to be Fit

By Vince Faust

Most people think arthritis is a disease of older people. It’s not, it affects people of all age groups. Over 50 million Americans have arthritis. That’s means that one in seven Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, including as many as 300,000 children. Arthritis takes a heavier toll among women with nearly two-thirds of the people with arthritis being women. Arthritis limits everyday activities, such as walking, dressing and bathing for more than three million Americans. You should see your doctor concerning arthritis if you have joint pain, joint stiffness or inability to move normally and have swelling that last more than two weeks. Some forms of arthritis can also affect your heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin.

The medical term Arthritis refers to more than 100 different diseases that cause pain, swelling and the limitation of movement in the joint and connective tissue. Arthritis is usually chronic which means that it will most probably last a lifetime. While there are many old wives tales about the causes of arthritis, there are no specific causes for most forms of the disease. How the disease affects the body varies depending on the form of arthritis. The three most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis (OA), fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that affects the cartilage. This form of arthritis causes the cartilage to deteriorate causing pain and loss of movement as bone begins to rub against bone. Fibromyalgia can be distinguished by widespread pain affecting the muscles and the attachments to the bone. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes the joint lining to become inflamed. The chronic inflammation causes deterioration of the joint, pain and limited movement.

Other serious and common forms of arthritis or related disorders include:

  •  Gout
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • Scleroderma
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Juvenile arthritis…This is a general term used for all forms of arthritis that affect children.

There are no curers for arthritis, but we can reduce the impact it has on your everyday life. The key to this reduction is early diagnosis and a treatment plan tailored to the needs of each individual. There are several health care professionals needed to treat a person with arthritis. Your primary or family doctor is the first health care person most people will come in contact with when treating arthritis. This doctor will use your pattern of symptoms, medical history, a physical examination, x-rays and lab tests to determine whether you have arthritis, the type, how server your condition has become and what treatment you need.

Treatments for arthritis varies and it sometimes takes time to find the right treatment. Finding the right treatment can be a matter of trial and error. You should always let your doctor know if a treatment is not working. Never change your treatment program on your own without a good reason. You should never follow other medical advice without first checking with your own doctor. Treatments for arthritis can be divided into several categories: medication, exercise, diet, pacing, joint protection, weight reduction, surgery and self-help.

The Arthritis Foundation recommends that you should find out as much as you can about your arthritis and your treatment.  To read more of this article or if you’ve missed an article of “Tips to be Fit”  search “Tips to be Fit”


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