There are many forms of arthritis, and one in three adults has some form of it.
- Osteoarthritis (breakdown of the cushioning tissue, called cartilage, in the joints) is the most common form. It affects the weight-bearing joints of the knees, hips, and lower back, as well as, the hands.
- Fibromyalgia is a pain syndrome involving muscles and muscle attachment areas.
- Gout is a rheumatic disease causing sudden, severe episodes of pain and tenderness, redness, warmth and swelling in the joints.
- Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis produces serious complications in severe cases or causes few problems in very mild cases.
- Lupus affects the skin and body tissues and possibly organs such as kidneys, lungs or heart.
- Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation (swelling) of the lining of joint tissues, leading to deformity.
These symptoms are warning signs of arthritis:
- Swelling in one or more joints.
- Morning stiffness lasting 30 minutes or longer.
- Persistent joint pain or tenderness.
- Inability to move a joint in the normal way.
- Redness or warmth in a joint.
- Weight loss, fever or weakness, and joint pain that cannot be explained.
Speak to your doctor about your warning signs. Your doctor will take a detailed medical history of your current and past symptoms and conduct a physical examination, X-rays and blood work to determine the type of arthritis you have. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options:
- Medications can reduce pain and tenderness in the joints.
- Physical therapy can teach you new ways to perform daily activities such as dressing, walking, climbing stairs and bathing.
- Heat and cold therapies may ease pain and stiffness by relaxing the muscles.
- A physical therapist, occupational therapist, exercise physiologist or doctor can recommend an exercise program.
- Lose weight if overweight. Extra weight puts more pressure on the joints and can aggravate some forms of arthritis.
- Use a variety of methods to control your arthritis pain.
- Get adequate sleep each night
- Balance physical activity with rest
- Take medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) as recommended by your doctor.
- Exercise to keep joints moving, reduce pain and stiffness. Improve your mood and attitude, and increase your energy level. Moderate exercise will reduce further joint damage by keeping the muscles around the joints strong and elastic. Work at getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity three or more days a week.
- Break activities down into smaller tasks that you can manage.
- Use assistive devices (such as cane, walker, splints or braces to support weakened joints) when needed.
- Use extra thick pens and larger-handled cooking utensils.
For more information, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.