Arthritis is a serious medical condition that millions of people suffer from in all stages of life. It affects the joints in the human body, making them stiff, swollen, and/or painful. There are many types of arthritis; the two most common being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osetoarthritis is said to affect approximately 21 million Americans, while rheumatoid arthritis is said to affect approximately 1% of American adults.
Currently it is unknown what causes arthritis, nor is there a perfect cure. However, there are several steps you can take to live a healthy and happy life with the condition.
- Exercising regularly is very important, especially when living with arthritis. A well-designed exercise plan can help decrease pain, increase flexibility and overall fitness, and even lift your spirits.
- Medication is another essential part of treatment. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat symptoms of pain, stiffness, and swelling. Other drugs, such as DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) may be used to slow the progress of the disease.
- A more drastic measure of treatment may be surgery, although it is not necessarily a last resort. Surgical procedures for arthritis aim to both release pain and restore function in patients.
- Eating healthy is not only an important aspect of everyone’s life, but may also be especially important for arthritis patients as well. Although certain diets do no actually cause arthritis, it is possible that certain diets may interact with the condition. This is still under speculation, and you may need to discuss this with your doctor for further information.
- There are also a number of complementary therapies available for treating arthritis, such as acupuncture, ayurveda, herbalism, homeopathy, massage therapy and naturopathic medicine. The results of these therapies vary with patients, so further research and discussions with your doctor will be needed to decide which option would be best for you.
If you have persistent joint pain, swelling, and/or stiffness for more than two weeks, you are encouraged to meet with your doctor for a possible diagnosis and discussion of treatment options.