Arthritis affects 54.4 million US adults, about 1 in 4, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is an inflammation of the joints. It can affect one joint or multiple joints. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, with different causes and treatment methods. The most common form of the disease in the United States is osteoarthritis. Other common types include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and fibromyalgia, says the CDC.
Different types of arthritis have different symptoms. The pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints are common symptoms for most types of arthritis. Depending on the type, symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over time. Symptoms may even come and go, or persist over time.
Symptoms of Osteoarthritis – Joint pain, Stiffness when you wake up or after you’ve been sitting for a while; Tenderness — the area is sore when you touch it; Lack of movement — the joint won’t complete its full range of motion; Grating — you might feel things rubbing together inside the joint; Bone spurs — lumps of bone form around the joint
Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis – Joint pain, swelling and tenderness for 6 weeks or longer; Morning stiffness for at least 30 minutes; More than one joint affected, especially small joints in your hands, wrists, and feet; The same joints on both sides of the body are affected
Symptoms of Infectious Arthritis – Fever; Chills; Joint inflammation; Tenderness; Sharp pain that is related to an injury or infection elsewhere in your body
Symptoms of Juvenile Arthritis – Fever that comes and goes; Loss of appetite; Weight loss; Anemia; Blotchy rash on the arms and legs; Joint stiffness; Limp; Joint swelling
What You Should Do
In inflammatory types of arthritis, it is important to control inflammation. Treatment can include medications, non-drug therapies such as physical therapy or patient education, and sometimes surgery.
There are a lot of things you can do to manage your arthritis. The day-to-day things you choose to do to manage your condition and stay healthy are “self-management” strategies and activities. Physical activity is another simple and effective, non-drug way to relieve arthritis pain. Being physically active can reduce pain, improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis. You will also need to talk to your doctor if you have joint pain and other arthritis symptoms. It’s important to get an accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.
For people who are overweight or obese, losing weight will reduce stress on joints, particularly weight bearing joints like the hips and knees. Choose activities that are easy on the joints like walking, bicycling, and swimming. These low-impact activities have a low risk of injury and do not twist or put too much stress on the joints.