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The term arthritis refers to more than 100 different diseases that cause pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissue. According to the Arthritis Foundation, almost 43 million people in the United States, or one in six people, suffer from some kind of arthritis. Arthritis is usually chronic and can drastically change the lifestyle and freedom of those afflicted with it.

Three Most Frequent Types of Arthritis:
  • Osteoarthritis - the most common form of arthritis, affecting nearly 21 million people in America, most of whom are women over the age of 45. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the ends of bones deteriorates, leading to pain and loss of movement when connecting bones rub together.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis - a disease of the immune system in which joint linings become chronically inflamed, eventually leading to deterioration of the joint and loss of movement.
  • Fibromyalgia causes connective tissues and muscles throughout the body to become painful, and is sometimes associated with changes in weather, sleep patterns, and level of activity or stress.
Both fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to affect women than men.

Anyone can get arthritis, including children. Women are nearly twice as likely to develop the disease as men. However, with early diagnosis and a treatment program designed specifically for the patient, the painful symptoms of most types of arthritis can be eased and managed successfully.

Common Warning Signs of Arthritis:
  • Morning stiffness lasting 30 minutes or longer
  • Joint pain or tenderness that is constant or that comes and goes
  • Not being able to move a joint in the normal way
  • Redness or warmth in a joint
  • Weight loss, fever or weakness and joint pain that can't be explained

If any of these symptoms lasts longer than two weeks, see your doctor.

Arthritis brings with it both physical and psychological stresses, including pain, limited movement, fatigue, anger and depression. It may limit daily activities like walking, dressing, driving and working.

Once arthritis is diagnosed, the doctor may prescribe a combination of medication, rest, a therapeutic or recreational exercise program, joint protection techniques, and the application of heat or cold. Depending upon the type of arthritis and the associated pain, there may not be a need for medication. 

The Arthritis Foundation recommends that people with arthritis try to keep their weight down through diet and carefully monitored exercise. They may require surgery, and, in some severe cases, may even have to have their joints replaced.




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