Understand and Treat Different Types of Arthritis
Edited by Lor777, Charmed, Eng, Jonathan and 1 other
Arthritis (joint inflammation) refers to several diseases that cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. There are more often 100 different types of arthritis, but the majority of them fall into one of four categories.
Osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease) is common among older adults. The cartilage (a material that cushions bones at the joints) begins to wear out, and bone rubs against bone. Pain is the first symptom and is often worsened by exercise. Osteoarthritis starts slowly and usually begins on one side of the body only. Morning stiffness may follow periods of inactivity, and joint discomfort often occurs before a change in the weather. As the disease progresses, the joints become swollen and inflexible, and a grating sensation may accompany movement. Over time the inflammation may deform joints; this is especially noticeable in the hands where knuckles become enlarged.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts between the ages of 30 and 40. It can affect as many as 15 or 20 joints at a time, as well as the lungs, spleen, skin, and brain. Tenderness in all active joints is one of the earliest recognizable signs. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis frequently affects both sides of the body, such as both feet or both hands. The affected joints are painful and warm to the touch during initial attacks and subsequent flare-ups. Small lumps called nodules--ranging in size from a pea to a walnut--may occur under the skin near the elbows, nose, scalp, or knees, or under the toes, although they are not usually painful. Other symptoms may include fatigue and weight loss. Most arthritic conditions cannot be cured, but their detrimental effects can be limited with consistent self-care and medical support.
While you can't prevent arthritis, it is possible to delay the onset and slow the degenerative process.
- 1Avoid trauma, overuse, and repetitive or jarring activities.
- 2Vary your exercise and activity schedule to follow changes in the pressure and stress on joints.
- 3Exercise regularly.
- 4Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to nourish joint tissues.
- 5Exercising with weights strengthens muscles that support and protect joints.
- 6Stretching will help maintain joint flexibility.
- 7Control your weight.
- 8Excess pounds place stress on weight bearing joints such as knees.
What You Can Do
- 1Take and over the counter pain reliever for pain.
- 2Rest sore joints.
- 3If you must continue to put weight or stress on the joint, take breaks and rest.
- 4For inflamed, swollen joints, apply an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every hour for two hours, then leave ice off for two hours.
- 5Repeat the ice cycle for 48 hours or until swelling is gone.
- 6If the joint is not swollen, apply warm, moist heat for 20 to 30 minutes, three or four times a day.
- 7Follow heat with gentle full range of motion exercises and gentle massage.
- 8When joint pain and inflammation subside, continue with the prevention measures mentioned above.
- 9Become informed about your type of arthritis.
- 10Ask your doctor for self care treatments specifically for you.
- 11Learn about such as support groups, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
Gout is build up of uric acid crystals in joint fluid. Symptoms are pain, stiffness, swelling, especially in the big toe, ankle or knee. Gout commonly affects men more often than women. It is aggravated by foods high in purines (such as organ meats) or alcoholic beverages.
Avoid these foods if you have gout:
Gout is a painful form of arthritis that is linked to diet. If you overindulge in meat, seafood, and alcohol, chances are your level of uric acid increases and creates crystals around your joints. The purpose of uric acid is supposed to be to break down purines, which although, occur naturally in the body, could also be gotten from eating organ meats, herring, anchovies, mushrooms, and asparagus. You should also be restricted from consuming alcohol, particularly beer, which is linked to gout attacks. Fasting and rapid weight loss are not encouraged because they are sometimes the causes of gout attacks. The best gout diet is to limit meat, fish, and poultry consumption, avoid alcohol, and cut back on fats. Avoid food sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Eating food rich in complex carbohydrates is encouraged. Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Also, low fat or fat free dairy products are good for you. And also, aim for 8 to 16 glasses of water a day. There is also evidence that 4 to 6 cups of coffee a day lowers the risk of gout occurrence in men.
Ankylosing Spondylitis is an inflammation in the spine, other joints; thought to be genetically linked. The symptoms are pain, stiffness in back, neck, and other torso joints such as hips. Ankylosing Spondylitis commonly affects men in their 30s but stiff back can last a lifetime.
How to Know When to Seek Help
Although arthritis is a slow progressive disease that can be managed well with self-care, there are three problems that require medical help quickly:
- 1Infection in a joint.
- 2Broken bone near arthritic joint.
- 3Nerve damage.
Call your doctor if you have the following:
- 1Sudden swelling, heat, or redness in the joint or joints.
- 2Joint pain that is severe or interfering with usual activities.
- 3Joint pain that requires you to take over the counter pain relievers frequently to ease the pain.
- 4Pain upon motion of the joint, or limited movement.
- 5Frequent joint pain and a history of ulcer or a bleeding disorder.
- 6Joint symptoms and a rash or fever.
- 7Inability to move or use the joint.
- 8Sudden pain in the joint with numbness or tingling in a limb below, back pain with numbness in legs, or loss of control in your bowels or bladder.
- 9Arthritis that worsens or does not improve after six weeks of self-care.