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The Basics Of Arthritis

Arthritis signals people in a variety of 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’s it all about? Let’s look at the basics

and learn more.

Arthritis actually means “joint inflammation” and has over

100 related conditions or type / forms of disease. Left

untreated, it can advance, resulting in joint damage that

cannot be undone or reversed. So early detection and

treatment are important.

The two most common types 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 second type, RA, refers to the body’s immune system

attacking joint tissue. Still not fully understood in the

medical community, this condition most often starts in a

person’s hands, wrists and feet. 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 note is with swelling. With

RA, people report “soft and squishy” swelling. While with

OA, people report “hard and bony” swelling.

There is no specific age for arthritis sufferers. While it

can affect every age group, it seems to focus on those over

45 years of age.

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 of age. 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 many ways to effectively manage arthritic pain

today to find relief. Available are arthritic diets,

exercise programs, over-the-counter and prescription

medications, relaxation and positive emotion coping

techniques. Also available are surgeries, supplements, home

remedies, natural and other alternative therapies. When

arthritis is first suspected, it would be wise to seek a

medical opinion first. Then as time and resources allow,

check out the other options.

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