World Arthritis Day is coming up on October 12, which is dedicated to raising awareness about this disease. To help you understand arthritis better, the following are some of the most frequently asked questions about it, along with answers.
How Can Arthritis Vary?
Arthritis isn’t just one disease. There are actually over 100 forms of arthritis that can affect people, although some occur more often than others. The most common forms of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis: This disease occurs when the cartilage inside your joints deteriorates, resulting in stiffness and pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: This disease occurs when your immune system attacks your joints, especially the lining in them.
- Fibromyalgia: This disease causes widespread pain that can flare up at times.
- Psoriatic arthritis: This disease also occurs when your immune system attacks your joints. It also causes a skin condition known as psoriasis.
- Gout: This disease occurs when you have a high amount of uric acid in your body, which can lead to joint pain.
Who Can Get Arthritis?
Anyone can get arthritis, including children and younger adults, but it most often occurs in adults who are 65 years old or older. Juvenile arthritis, also called pediatric rheumatic disease, occurs in close to 300,000 children in the U.S. who are 16 years old or younger. Juvenile arthritis can affect the joints, as well as the skin, eyes, muscles and gastrointestinal system.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms?
Arthritis can cause a wide range of symptoms, but some are more common than others. In general, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other forms of arthritis often cause mild to severe pain, stiffness and swelling. Redness around the affected joints might also occur. With gout, symptoms often affect the joint of the big toe, although they can also occur in other joints. With fibromyalgia, symptoms are more widespread rather than focused mainly on the joints.
Is There a Cure?
There are no cures for arthritis, but there are treatments available to help you manage this condition. Some of these include medications that relieve pain or reduce inflammation and physical therapy to improve your range of motion while also making the muscles around your joints stronger. Some individuals with severe arthritis benefit from having surgery to ease joint problems, such as joint repair or joint replacement. Making lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising regularly and applying heat or cold to the affected joints, can also help.
How Can I Support My Loved One with Arthritis?
If you have a loved one with arthritis, you can provide support in the following ways:
- Participating in an event, such as a run or walk, that raises awareness
- Attend exercises classes with your loved one
- Provide help with daily activities, such as gardening
- Encourage your loved one to discuss their symptoms and treatment options with their doctor
If you have arthritis or a question about your risk of having a rheumatic disease, please contact Arthritis Center of Lexington for an appointment.