VIVA Health: Arthritis Awareness Month
MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Arthritis is inflammation or swelling of one or more joints. It describes dozens of conditions that affect joints, tissues around joints, and other connective tissues. Pain, stiffness, and swelling are the most common indicators of arthritis, but symptoms will vary depending on type. Arthritis is very common and affects about one in four American adults or roughly 58 million men and women. Arthritis awareness is observed each May.
Q: What are common forms of arthritis?
A: Common forms of the condition include:
· Osteoarthritis- This is the most common form and involves a breakdown of tissue in a joint. It is often called “wear and tear” arthritis and most frequently affects hands, hips, and knees.
· Rheumatoid Arthritis- This is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s immune system attacks healthy body cells by mistake. It causes painful swelling in the lining of a joint, causing damage to tissue.
· Gout is another form of arthritis that usually affects the big toe joint. You may have no noticeable symptoms one day and then have a flare up where symptoms get worse.
· Fibromyalgia causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue, and often emotional and mental distress.
· Childhood Arthritis which causes physical damage to joints that make it hard for children to do everyday things like walking or dressing.
Q: Who is most at risk for developing arthritis?
A: There are risk factors beyond a person’s control such as, age, gender, and genetics. On the other hand, some lifestyle behaviors and characteristics increase the likelihood of getting some types of arthritis or making it worse. For instance, people who are overweight or obese and those who repetitively stress joints, like athletes, are more likely to get knee osteoarthritis. Those who work at jobs that require overuse or repetitive movements also face a higher risk, while smokers face an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis.
Q: Should people with arthritis avoid physical activity?
A: No not all. In fact, doing joint-friendly physical activity can improve your arthritis pain, function, mood, and quality of life. Joint-friendly physical activities are low-impact, which means they put less stress on the body, which reduces the risk of injury. Examples include walking, biking, and swimming. Being physically active can also delay the onset of arthritis-related disability and help people with arthritis manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Start slow and pay attention to how your body tolerates it.
Q: What options are available for those living with arthritis?
A: The Centers for Disease Control or CDC suggest people Strive for Five:
1. Research and learn new self-management skills
2. Be active
3. Talk to your doctor
4. Manage your weight, and
5. Protect your joints
These will help improve your quality of life.
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