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Arthritis 101

Arthritis is used to describe any disorder that affects your joints like your elbows, knees or other places where your bones meet. Typically, arthritis causes pain or swelling in your joints and it can also cause problems in your organs. There are numerous types of arthritis, but the most common are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout.

 

Common Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis occurs when the slippery tissue that covers the ends of the bones in your joint breaks down. As a result, the bones grind against one another and cause pain and swelling. Osteoarthritis is often related to aging or injury and usually affects the joints in your fingers, knees and hips.

Another common type of arthritis is an autoimmune disease called rheumatoid arthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis your immune system attacks the lining of the joints throughout your body—which may also affect your internal organs. This type of arthritis typically occurs in the hands and feet.

Gout is usually considered the most painful type of arthritis. It’s caused by a buildup of uric acid in your body that is then deposited into your joints. It can cause severe pain, swelling and redness.

It’s important to talk with your physician about arthritis, your level of pain and how it affects your daily life. Some strategies for managing arthritis include the following.

  • Try to maintain a healthy weight. This reduces the stress on your joints and can relieve pain.
  • Learn the right ways to use and protect your joints. The right shoes, for example, can help relieve pain in the hips or knees.
  • Keep moving. While rest is important, it’s also important to use and move your joints. Walking or swimming are both good, low-impact activities to make a habit. Talk with your physician about appropriate strengthening and endurance exercises that will help build and maintain healthy joints and muscles.
  • Take a relaxing warm shower in the morning. Warm showers or baths may provide comfort.
  • Use a cold or heat pack on sore areas. You may find pain relief using an ice pack or a heating pad on the affected area after activity. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Arthritis can make it difficult to enjoy some of your favorite activities. The pain can cause you to alter the way you do everyday tasks. Talk to your doctor if you experience joint pain. He can help you find new ways to do things, manage weight and live well with less pain.

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