As many people begin to age they may start to feel some stiffness and pain in their joints. This typically happens around the ages of 45 to 50, and it’s referred to as arthritis. As one of the most common diseases there is, it happens to not only older people but can happen to anyone at any age.
In recent years scientists have been learning a great deal about arthritis, which has helped us understand the condition, as well provide new treatments for it. Arthritis means joint (arthr) and itis (inflammation). It comes in multiple forms, can’t always be seen, and has a variety of symptoms, as well as treatments. The most common type of the disease is osteoarthritis, which follows an injury that has taken place at a joint.
Osteoarthritis happens when you have had an injury, such as to your knee. Perhaps you played a sport or had an accident and had an injury. Years later you could end up with osteoarthritis as a result of the prior injury. It tends to happen to women more than men and usually as one gets older.
There are some risk factors that you can focus on that can help you reduce your chances of this happening. For starters, maintaining a healthy weight is one of them. It is important to maintain healthy weight to keep osteoarthritis at bay.
There are multiple treatments available, including hands-on manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and aerobic exercise that can help and hinder your progress, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medication options. Options range from blocking pain to surgeries for the most severe cases.
Gout is another common form of arthritis, which affects the big toe, as well as other joints. This happens because there is a build up of needle-like crystals that build up in the joints. For those with this condition, it is important that they avoid such foods as meat gravy, liver, beef, and anchovies, because they contain purines, which contribute to the crystal formation, and can bring on an attack of gout. Additionally, being overweight, drinking alcohol, and some medications can make it worse.
A third type of arthritis is called rheumatoid arthritis, which can affect the whole body, rather than particular joints like the first two types. Rheumatoid arthritis happens when your immune system mistakenly attacks your joints. It creates swelling, pain, stiffness, and people lose the functionality of bones and joints, usually those in their feet and hands. It can also affect internal organs, and leave people feeling sick or tired. There are medications available to help control the pain and inflammation and physical therapy can help maintain or recovery strength and function.
A doctor can perform tests to determine if you have arthritis and if so, what type you have. Meanwhile, researchers continue to explore the disease and new treatments. Genes, they have found, play a prominent role in many types. Additional risk factors are being explored, such as heavy metals in the environment, job-related exposures, and others.
If you feel you have joint pain you can discuss it with one of our physical therapists or your doctor so that it can be addressed. It is better to catch it right away rather than let it go on. Conservative care is the first line of intervention in most cases and the sooner you start treatment the better.