Set A Weight Loss Goal
When it comes to arthritis, what your scale says really matters. People with a higher body weight are diagnosed with arthritis at an earlier age and have more severe arthritis. It makes sense: Feet are a weight-bearing joint, so obesity makes arthritis worse, says Dr. Domingues. Even one extra pound on your frame can equal about five extra pounds of force on your feet. Losing 20 pounds can mean sparing your feet from an extra 100 pounds of force with every stride.
Excess body weight also increases inflammation, which fuels the painful symptoms of inflammatory types of arthritis like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. Its not easy to lose weight when you have stiff or sore joints, but even a five- to 10-percent reduction in body weight has been shown to dramatically diminish joint pain and improve exercise tolerance. Check out these weight loss tips that are especially helpful when you have arthritis.
What Are The Types Of Arthritis Of The Knee
There are around 100 types of arthritis. The most common types that might affect your knees include:
- Osteoarthritis is the most common of the types on this list. Osteoarthritis wears away your cartilage the cushioning between the three bones of your knee joint. Without that protection, your bones rub against each other. This can cause pain, stiffness and limited movement. It can also lead to the development of bone spurs. Osteoarthritis gets worse as time passes.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is a type of osteoarthritis. The cartilage starts thinning after trauma to your knee . Your bones rub together, and that causes the same symptoms as osteoarthritis: pain, stiffness and limited movement. Your knee arthritis symptoms might not start until years after the trauma.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system causes inflammation when it’s trying to protect you from an infection, injury, toxin or another foreign invader. The inflammatory response is one way your body protects itself. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you have an unhealthy immune system that triggers inflammation in your joints even though theres no foreign invader. The inflammation causes pain, stiffness and swelling of the synovial membrane, which can also wear away your cartilage.
How Is It Treated
Some kids who have JIA might take medicine like ibuprofen to help control pain and inflammation. If the arthritis is more severe, they may need to take other medicines to help lower the pain and inflammation. Some of these medicines are pills, but others are shots.
It’s important that kids with JIA keep their joints moving. Often a kid will see a physical therapist or occupational therapist. In addition to working with children to move their joints and strengthen their muscles, these therapists can help create special exercise programs for home or school that can help a kid stay active.
In addition to joint problems, JIA may cause uveitis , an inflammation of the eye that can lead to problems with vision if it’s not treated. All kids diagnosed with JIA should get their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating eye problems. If the eyes are affected, they may be treated with eye drops.
Besides taking medicines, a kid can do a few things to help with the symptoms of JIA:
- Keep joints warm and stay active.
- Take warm baths, which can make a kid’s joints hurt less.
- Use an electric blanket on a timer that turns on 1 hour before a kid wakes up, which can help warm the joints and help a kid move better.
- Some kids dip their hands in a special warm wax called paraffin that helps their joints ache less.
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Gradual Increase In Pain
Arthritis pain usually starts slowly, although it can appear suddenly in some cases.
At first, you may notice pain in the morning or after youve been inactive for a while.
Your knees may hurt when you:
- climb stairs
- stand up from a sitting position
- walk on a flat surface
- sit down for a while
Knee pain that wakes you up from sleep can be a symptom of OA.
For people with RA, the symptoms often start in the smaller joints. They are also more likely to be symmetrical, affecting both sides of the body. The joint may be warm and red.
With OA, symptoms may progress rapidly or they may develop over several years, depending on the individual. Symptoms can worsen and then remain stable for a long time, and they can vary day to day.
Factors that may cause worsening of symptoms include:
- cold weather
- excessive activity
With RA, symptoms usually appear over several weeks, but they can develop or worsen in a few days. A flare can happen when disease activity increases. Triggers vary and can include changes in medication.
When Should You See A Doctor
Advanced arthritis can make mobility difficult, including the ability to perform everyday activities. Ideally, you would see your physician before your condition is in the advanced stages. Thats why its important to know about this condition, especially if youre at risk for it.
Some general recommendations for when to see your physician include:
- difficulty moving a particular joint
- joint swelling
- warmth at the affected joint
Your doctor will listen to your symptoms and evaluate your medical and family history. A doctor may order further testing, such as blood, urine, joint fluid tests, or imaging studies . These tests can help determine what type of arthritis you have.
Your doctor may also use imaging tests to identify areas of injury or joint breakdown. Imaging tests include X-rays, ultrasound, or magnetic resonance imaging scans. This can also help rule out other conditions.
Your doctor may prescribe medication, recommend surgery, and encourage you to do physical therapy. At home you can ease arthritis pain by taking a warm shower, doing gentle stretching exercises, and using an ice pack on the sore area.
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Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments dont sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
Stop Eating An Unhealthy Diet
What’s your diet got to do with arthritis? Eating well and maintaining your ideal weight is especially important if you’ve got arthritis. Excess pounds can put lots of stress on weight-bearing joints, which is likely to make arthritis pain worse. Even moderate weight gain can stress joints that are already burdened by arthritis.
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How Is Arthritis Diagnosed
Seeing your primary care physician is a good first step if youre unsure who to see for an arthritis diagnosis. They will perform a physical exam to check for fluid around the joints, warm or red joints, and document the range of motion in the joints. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist if needed.
If youre experiencing severe symptoms, you may choose to schedule an appointment with a rheumatologist first. This may lead to a faster diagnosis and treatment.
Documenting inflammation levels in your blood and aspirating and analyzing joint fluids, if present, can help your doctor determine what kind of arthritis you have.
Blood tests that check for specific types of antibodies like anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide , rheumatoid factor and antinuclear antibody are also common diagnostic tests.
Doctors commonly use imaging scans such as X-ray, MRI, and CT scans to produce an image of your bones and cartilage. This helps them rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as bone spurs.
The main goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pain youre experiencing and prevent additional damage to the joints. Youll learn what works best for you in terms of managing pain.
In general, treatment for arthritis
- heat and cold compresses
- mobility assistance devices, such as canes or walkers
Improving your joint function is also important. Your doctor may prescribe a combination of treatment methods to achieve the best results.
Can I Claim Benefits If I Have Arthritis
There are a number of benefits and grants you may be able to claim if you have arthritis.
Benefits for mobility problems
If you’re over State Pension age and you need help with your personal care, such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet, because of your symptoms of arthritis, you may be able to claim Attendance Allowance.
If youre under State Pension age, you may be able to claim Personal Independence Payment, and if your ability to work is limited due to your symptoms you could claim Employment and Support Allowance.
Disabled Facilities Grants
You may be eligible for financial support for home adaptations to help you manage better. This could include installing ramps and handrails, and getting specialist equipment to help you in the kitchen or bathroom.
If you have a friend or family member who looks after you for at least 35 hours a week, they may be able to claim Carers Allowance.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis vary from person to person. But if you have arthritis, you will almost certainly have symptoms relating to your joints, such as:
- redness and warmth in a joint
- stiffness or reduced movement of a joint
Some people also get other problems outside their joints. Other common symptoms include:
- weight loss
- feeling unwell
Stop Ignoring Your Physical Limitations
Just as there are people with arthritis who aren’t active at all, there are those who push beyond their limits. The trick is to pace your activities. Overdoing it is just as harmful as underdoing it.
Pushing your limits can increase pain and put you at higher risk of joint damage. Respect pain and choose activities with your physical limitations in mind.
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Symptoms By Body Part
The most commonly affected areas during the onset of RA are the small joints in your hands and feet. This is where you may first feel stiffness and an ache.
Its also possible for RA inflammation to affect your knees and hips. Because the disease presents differently in different people, it can go on to affect almost any joint.
Your organs are another area that can be disrupted by RA inflammation:
- Your heart muscle can become damaged.
- Your lungs can become scarred.
- Blood vessel damage can lead to subsequent skin and nerve issues.
Whats The Outlook For Someone Living With Arthritis
Since theres no cure for arthritis, most people need to manage arthritis for the rest of their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right combination of treatments to reduce symptoms. One of the biggest health risks associated with arthritis is inactivity. If you become sedentary from joint pain, you may face a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.
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Learn The Signs Causes And Treatment Of Osteoarthritis In Teenagers
Though most people associate arthritis with old age, the disorder can also affect young people in their 30s, 20s and even teens.
Troy Smurawa, M.D., Director of Pediatric Sports Medicine at the Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, explains how and why arthritis can develop in the younger years.
Ways To Live Better With Arthritis
Living with arthritis can be disruptive and disconcerting. The pain and stiffness can make it difficult to perform the daily tasks most people take for granted. Even things like putting on socks or cooking dinner can be exhausting. Therefore, if you have arthritis, it is important to take especially good care of yourself to relieve pain, improve function, and cope with difficult emotions. In fact, the American College of Rheumatology recommends not only medication but also nondrug treatments for people with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. These methods include weight loss, physical therapy, and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage.
It makes sense that eating healthful foods, shedding pounds if you are overweight, strengthening your muscles, and learning to move your joints safely are helpful regardless of which form of arthritis you have and which joints are affected. Further, paying attention to diet, weight, and exercise is important for preventing heart disease, which has been linked to rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
Following are some do-it-yourself strategies and therapies that can help you conserve energy, protect your joints, accomplish daily tasks more easily, and adapt to lifestyle disruptions.
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Deformities Of The Knee
The appearance of the knee can change during a flare and as damage progresses.
In RA, swelling and redness are common during a flare. In the long term, persistent inflammation can result in permanent damage to the cartilage and the tendons. This can affect the shape and appearance of the knee.
With OA, the muscles around the knee can weaken, resulting in a sunken appearance. The knees can start to point toward each other or bend outward.
Knee deformities range from barely noticeable to severe and debilitating.
Treatment will depend on the type of arthritis a person has.
What Can Be Done For Arthritis In The Back
Conventional approaches to ease arthritis back pain may include:
- Alternative treatments such as acupuncture or chiropractic manipulation.
- Medications to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
- Physical therapy to strengthen the muscles that support the back.
- Regular exercise and weight loss, which can increase the flexibility and strength of back muscles.
- Surgical treatment to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves or spine.
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“Sudden arthritis” is not a real medical condition, but the symptoms of arthritis namely, joint pain and swelling can develop very abruptly in some people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
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Arthritis can also come and go, so you could feel tip-top one day and wake up feeling sore and achy the next.
Here’s more on why arthritis might seem to come on all of a sudden, including when you should call a doctor about your symptoms.
What Are The Causes Of Osteoarthritis
The causes of osteoarthritis generally differ between someone who is young and an older person with the condition.
Causes of osteoarthritis in the young include:
- Being overweight or obese, which puts extra pressure on the weight-bearing joints
- Leading a sedentary lifestyle
- Having a job that requires sitting down for long periods of time
- Poor posture when sitting for long periods or regular heavy lifting
- Performing regular impact sports, such as football or hockey
- Having a job that puts continued strain on the joints
- Joint injuries
- Being very active or athletic
- A family history of osteoarthritis
- Being born with hip dysplasia
- Having diabetes or a disorder related to growth hormones
Osteoarthritis in older people and the elderly is usually down to wear and tear of joints that naturally occurs with age.
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Inflammatory Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
Arthritis actually describes over 100 different conditions that affect joints and the surrounding tissue. They fall into two main categories: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis .
Inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease in which the mechanisms that normally protect your body attack your own joints and tissues instead. The most well-known example is rheumatoid arthritis , which tends to be symmetrical, meaning you’ll have problems in the same joints on both sides of your body, like both wrists or both knees.
The second type of arthritis and the most common form is osteoarthritis. A degenerative disorder, it’s caused by trauma or age-related wear and tear on your joints over time. OA is most likely to affect weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hip, lower spine or big toe, but it can also cause pain and stiffness in your thumb or finger joints.
Cracking Or Popping Sounds
When you bend or straighten your knee, you may feel a grinding sensation or hear cracking or popping sounds. Doctors call this crepitus.
These symptoms can occur when youve lost some of the cartilage that helps with smooth range of motion. Both OA and RA can result in cartilage damage.
When cartilage is damaged, rough surfaces and bone spurs develop. As you move your joints, these irregular areas rub against each other.
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Arthritis Symptoms And Treatment
Arthritis symptoms should surprise no one with even a basic understanding of the condition. Tell-tale arthritis symptoms include joint pain, redness, swelling and limited motion, and can affect any joint in the body, according to Dr. Mahadevan.
Rheumatoid arthritis is usually symmetrical, involving the small joints of the hands, wrists or feet, she said. Weight-bearing joints, such as lumbar spine, knees or hips, can get osteoarthritis.
Your doctor will need to examine you to determine if you have arthritis. As part of the examination process, you will likely have some laboratory work completed, a set of X-rays, a thorough exam of the joints and a discussion about your clinical history.
If your doctor determines you have arthritis, he or she will begin to develop an arthritis treatment plan customized for you.
There is no cure, but several medications are available to manage symptoms and slow down progression of certain arthritides, noted Dr. Mahadevan. Weight loss helps with knee arthritis progression, and exercises help with maintaining strength.
Treatment success depends greatly on the type of arthritis, according to Dr. Mahadevan.
See your physician when you start noticing pain or swelling or redness in the joints that does not go away or gets worse progressively, said Dr. Mahadevan.
And, one final fact from Dr. Mahadevan: Cracking your knuckles doesnt lead to arthritis.