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The curious thing about arthritis is that, despite that it resembles a health problem of its own, it is actually a generic name for over 200 recorded rheumatic diseases. A malfunctioning of the joints and articulations is usually included into this category, even if the symptoms may slightly differ from case to case. This is why there are different classifications like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, fibromyalgia and so on.
According to the latest data, well over 50 million Americans suffer from one form or another of arthritis, especially those over the age of 50, since this affection is known as an old man’s disease. It can affect, though, younger people as well, even children in some rare cases. There are approximately 294.000 children in the US who suffer from one form or another of arthritis. It is a debilitating condition, causing physical impairment and disrupting the subject’s everyday functioning.
The data concerning this health problem are worrying. According to the latest CDC (Center for Disease Control), the number of people suffering from arthritis, regardless of its form, is bound to increase to over 67 million until 2030 and the age range of the patients will also drop dramatically, with a minimum being set to 18. This is partly because of an inactive lifestyle, lacking proper physical activity and partly due to genetics.
Arthritis Signs and Symptoms
There are several pretty clear symptoms that will leave no doubt on the nature of the affection.
- Pain – It is the first that hits, no matter the type of arthritis you have developed. The pain can be manifested around the joints, lower back, bones, as well as muscles and it can be pretty debilitating at times. Also, it is associated with join and articulation swelling and stiffness, particularly during the first hours in the morning.
- Difficulties in using the members – You can either find it hard to use the hands or have problems walking. Either way, your daily functioning will suffer more and more every day, until the disease will be advanced enough to almost cripple you.
- Weight loss – Even though it is not such a dramatic effect, it can be in some cases, especially in the elderly and in the case of children, when arthritis starts manifesting at early ages.
- Poor sleeping habits – This is a repercussion of joint pain, which will lead to insomnia when powerful enough.
- Fatigue – A constant lack of energy during the day, which will affect the individual’s functioning and will cause fatigue.
- Depression – Depression is one of the symptoms triggered by arthritis and even if its manifestation, as well as its intensity, may differ in some cases, it can be encountered in most of the arthritic patients.
- Muscle weakness – Arthritis causes muscular weakness, combined with poor physical performances and a visible loss of flexibility.
Once installed, the disease, depending on its type, could begin to manifest symptoms in several months or even weeks and their intensity will gradually increase over time.
Arthritis Treatment and Therapies
Arthritis has no cure, no matter the type we are talking about. Both the rheumatoid type and osteoarthritis and lifetime conditions. The good part is that there are ways to ameliorate the symptoms by adopting several measures, proven to greatly reduce its impact. Among these, 2 of the most effective are:
- Physical therapy – It is effective especially when looking to avoid the appearance of the affection in the first place, but it is also effective in fighting the symptoms, especially in the initial stages of the development. The more the disease advances, the harder will be to get back on the right track.Physical therapies include specific exercises, targeting the affected areas, often occurring in warm pools, due to the fact that it stresses the joints less than free exercises.
- Medication – They are used for keeping the pain levels in check and decrease the inflammatory response, as well as ways to manage weight gain and reduce its impact on the affection itself.
Aside from this, arthritis can be managed quite effectively by adopting various lifestyle habits, with the specific aim to decrease its impact. In this regard, there are certain measures to be kept in mind. First of all, keep track of the symptoms and consult your doctor when you experience changes in the level of pain or when the symptoms evolve at an alarming rate.
Also, everyone at danger of contracting this disease in any form should live more active lifestyles, have regular sleeping patterns so that they can get enough rest and adopt more balanced diets, usually by cutting down the processed foods and sugars. Also, try protecting your joints your entire life, by not forcing them beyond their limitations.