Arthritis is no stranger to many adults, particularly to those over the age of 65. Arthritis, in short, is an inflammation of the joints that causes pain, stiffness and swelling which can be very painful. There are an estimated 100 different types of arthritis, all with different causes and treatment methods. But the two most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
You might be asking yourself how, exactly, your joints become inflamed, leading to arthritis. The simple answer is this: cartilage, which is a firm - but flexible - connective tissue within your joints, protects your joints by absorbing shock and pressure for normal every-day movements. Over time, due to age, overuse, injury or obesity, this cartilage can diminish, causing arthritis. In fact, normal wear and tear is the primary cause of OA.
RA, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder most likely caused by certain genetic markers. RA occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the tissues of the body, including the soft tissue in your joints that produces a fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joints.
The most common symptoms of arthritis include joint pain, stiffness and swelling. In people suffering from arthritis, it is common for their range of motion in the affected joint to decrease. Those suffering from RA may also experience fatigue and loss of appetite, due to impaired immune activity.
So how can you treat arthritis? This answer will vary depending on the type of arthritis you have, the severity of the condition as well as any other health conditions you have. In general, the goal of treatment is to reduce pain and improve joint function. Some medications include NSAIDs (e.g. Ibuprofen), menthol or capsaicin creams to block pain signals from your joints, or analgesics (e.g. Vicodin or Tylenol).
If you are experiencing joint pain, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss diagnosis and treatment options that are best for you
Inter Valley Health Plan hosts classes regularly on health and vitality. For a full list of classes in your area, please visit ivhp.com/forhealthandliving.
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan