According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 50 million people, both young and old, have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis. With over 100 different types, many suffer from life-changing and possibly debilitating symptoms that limit activities and work. And for the past 15 years, arthritis has been the leading cause of disability among U.S. adults.
Arthritis is inflammation in one or more of your joints. The most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis involves wear and tear damage to the joint’s cartilage, or the cushion between two bone joints. Once that cushion is gone, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, which then becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease progression can eventually destroy cartilage and bone in the joint.
While symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis, common symptoms include:
- Pain that affects one or more joints that can be constant or intermittent. It may also occur during rest or movement.
- Stiffness, especially in the morning, after sitting/riding in a car for a long time.
- Tenderness of the inflamed joint.
- Decreased range of motion or difficulty moving a joint.
Only a health care professional can diagnose arthritis. However, consider keeping track of your symptoms for a few weeks — note what is swollen and stiff, when, and how long, and if anything helps to ease the symptoms. By keeping track of your symptoms, it can help the doctor determine the type and extent of arthritis and develop a treatment plan. While there is no cure for arthritis, treatment can help manage and control your symptoms, so you can get back to being you!