Arthritis: Joint Pain or Something More?

By Guest Editor on Mar 29, 2016

More than 52 million American adults aged 18 and older have self-reported, doctor-diagnosis arthritis, with over 22.7 million of those adults experiencing limitations in their day-to-day activities due to the disease. Here are the facts about rheumatoid arthritis and its associated conditions:

  • Arthritis commonly occurs with, and can complicate, the management of other chronic diseases. Nearly half the people with heart disease and diabetes also have arthritis and nearly one third of obese Americans have arthritis.
  • Arthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness in and around the joints. If you begin to experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor about your pain and inflammation symptoms.
  • Symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. In both children and adults, arthritis can develop over a few weeks or it may take many years for symptoms to become problematic.
  • Arthritis is usually diagnosed by a physician after consulting the patient's medical history, physical examination, x-rays, and blood work but only a few of the diseases such as gout have a definitive diagnosis.
  • Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs. Fibromyalgia, for example, can lead other symptoms such as cognitive problems with thinking and memory, sleep disturbances, and irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Fibromyalgia, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) are different types of arthritis.
  • The pattern, severity, and location of symptoms vary depending on the type of disease.
  • Treatment for arthritis usually involves pain medication, physical activity, weight loss if overweight, self-management education. Depending on your condition, your doctor may prescribe one, several, or all of these treatment methods.
  • Physical activity is one of the simplest methods of controlling arthritis pain. Although it may be painful at first, encouraging motion in the joints that are in pain will actually help keep inflammation and pain down long-term
  • There are programs and materials through the government, doctor's office, and even online that can help self-manage arthritis pain. Talk to your doctor about your treatment and pain management options if your quality of life is still impacted by your arthritis.   |   Arthritis