Arthritis: What it is and How it Can Affect Your Body

a person with backpain

Arthritis is a common condition among adults over the age of 65. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Although arthritis is not curable, treatments available can help relieve symptoms. Here’s what you need to know about arthritis and how it can affect your body.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation in your joints. The symptoms of arthritis can vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness in your joints. You may also experience fatigue, redness or warmth in your joints, loss of range of motion in your joints, and difficulty completing everyday tasks. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is fairly common, especially among the older generation. It occurs when the cartilage in your joints breaks down. Cartilage is a substance that cushions and lubricates your joints. When it breaks down, it can cause pain and stiffness in your joints. Osteoarthritis usually affects the hands, hips, knees, or spine.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that causes inflammation in your joints. Autoimmune disorders occur when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks the lining of the joints, which can cause pain and swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the hands and feet but can also affect other body parts such as the lungs and eyes.

How Arthritis Can Affect Your Body

Joint pain and stiffness

This is the most common symptom of arthritis. The pain can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to move the affected joint. The stiffness is usually worse in the morning or after a period of inactivity.

Inflammation

Another common symptom is inflammation. Swelling occurs when the body’s white blood cells and chemicals protect you from infection or foreign substances. When these substances build up in the joints, they can cause swelling, warmth, redness, and stiffness.

Fatigue

When you feel tired all the time, it can be due to arthritis. Fatigue is a general feeling of tiredness that is not relieved by rest. It can be caused by many things, including anemia (a lack of red blood cells), sleep disturbances, depression, and medications used to treat arthritis.

Joint deformity

Joint deformity can occur when the cartilage breaks down, and the bones rub together. This can cause the joints to change shape and become deformed. In severe cases, it can lead to disability.

Jaw Pain

Most people often forget that the jaw is a muscle joint. Therefore, arthritis in the jaw can cause pain in the jaw joint and muscles. This is called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome.

TMJ disorder can be handled in many ways. But one of your best options is to get it checked by a dental professional. They would be able to determine the cause of your pain and give you the best treatment options.

Physical therapy for arthritis

Treatment Options for Arthritis

Arthritis is a common disease, but there is no known cure. However, there are treatment options. Here are some ways you can get your arthritis treated:

Medications

There are various medications available for arthritis. The most common are over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. These can help relieve pain and inflammation but should not be taken for long periods. If OTC medications don’t work, your doctor may prescribe stronger medications, such as corticosteroids or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)

Exercise

Exercise is an important part of treating arthritis. It can help improve joint function and flexibility, reduce pain, and increase muscle strength. A physical therapist can design an exercise program that is specifically for you.

Weight loss

If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce the stress and pain in your joints. Even a slight weight loss of 10 pounds can make a difference.

Surgery

Surgery may sometimes be necessary to repair or replace a damaged joint. Joint replacement surgery is a standard procedure to treat arthritis.

Heat and cold therapy

Applying heat or cold to the affected joint can help relieve pain and inflammation. Heat can be applied with a heating pad, warm cloth, or hot water bottle. Cold can be applied with an ice pack, cold cloth, or frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth.

Arthritis is a common disease that can cause joint pain and stiffness. Thankfully, there are many treatment options available. With the help of a medical professional, you can find the best way to manage your arthritis and live a pain-free life.

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