Managing Arthritis

If you have been diagnosed with arthritis you are not alone. It is the number one cause of disability in the United States; nearly 50 million Americans have some form of arthritis. There are many different types of arthritis and each has unique causes and symptoms. It is important to be properly diagnosed in order to receive effective treatment.  Some of the more common types of arthritis and there symptoms are: ·       Rheumatoid arthritis can present as swelling and stiffness especially in the fingers, hands, wrists, arms and legs, and appears equally on both sides of the body. This form of arthritis can be very painful as well as cause deformity to the joints. Rheumatoid arthritis may be genetic and is not related to age.  It can affect children, adolescents, young adults and older adults. ·       Osteoarthritis progresses slowly over time, it can be caused by injury or by normal wear and tear to the joints as a part of aging. It presents as stiffness and pain to joints and the back, if untreated the symptoms will continue to worsen. ·       Infectious arthritis is associated with injury. There is often redness, tenderness, swelling and sometimes pus at the injury site. It is not unusual to have fever and chills with this form of arthritis. If you suspect infection in a joint seek medical attention, an antibiotic or other treatment may be needed.  The good news is, when the infection is resolved, the pain and joint stiffness generally go away. ·       Gout is a buildup of Uric Acid in the joints, usually in the big toe or in finger joints; it is very painful with redness and swelling to the affected joint. The symptoms and pain will resolve with proper medication and care. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are things one can do to manage the symptoms and increase quality of life. ·       A healthy diet that includes foods with Omega 3 fatty acids such as fish and nuts is thought to be helpful. ·         If there is no fluid restriction, drink 8 glasses of water daily. ·         Gentle stretching exercise may help, but repetitive movements that cause pain should be avoided. ·       Low impact exercises such as swimming, bicycling, walking and yoga have been found to reduce symptoms and maintain flexibility. ·       Physical Therapy can help to strengthen the muscle and provide support to the joint. ·        Follow doctor recommendations regarding supplements and medications for effective pain management. ·        Get 8 hours of sleep each night. You can find more information about arthritis from the Arthritis Foundation at