You wake up in the morning to a stiff shoulder and an aching knee. You do what you can to loosen up your joints as you go through your morning routine, and then go about your day as usual. It’s not uncommon to have some stiffness in your joints, especially as you age, but how do you know if it’s just a little stiffness or if it is arthritis?
Arthritis isn’t a singular condition. The general term, “arthritis” refers to joint pain or joint disease, but there are more than 100 different types of arthritis. Arthritis is essentially joint function failure, and it can affect anyone regardless of age or gender. According to the Arthritis Foundation, almost 53 million adults and more than 300,000 children suffer from some type of arthritis in the United States.
Although arthritis doesn’t discriminate, certain people tend to be at a bigger risk. Women are typically more prone to arthritis than men. And while children and young adults can suffer from arthritis, it is more like to affect the elderly.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between bones in a joint is worn down. With nothing to buffer the movement, the bones begin to rub on each other which causes pain. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease, meaning that it gets worse over time. Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body to attack its own tissue which causes joint inflammation. Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic condition, meaning that the pain comes and goes sporadically.
Currently, there is nothing that will simply cure arthritis, but there are measures you can take to better manage it.
- Diet is important.There are foods that have natural anti-inflammatory properties as well as foods that can worsen your symptoms.
- Be active. There have been studies showing that exercise can help slow the effects and lessen the symptoms of arthritis.
- No one knows better than your doctor. If you suffer from arthritis, speak to a physician to find out what steps are right for you.