Arthritis affects over 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S., and that number is expected to keep growing. It is therefore becoming more and more important that people know the signs to watch for if they think they may have arthritis so that they can receive the right treatment.
Arthritis is the inflammation of and pain in the joints. Women seem to be more prone to developing arthritis, but it can affect any gender or age. Some people experience extreme pain and severe symptoms, while others may only have minor symptoms.
There are several different types of arthritis which have different causes and symptoms.
- Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and is often caused by aging, although young people can have osteoarthritis as well. This type of arthritis occurs when cartilage becomes worn down and consequently, the bones rub together.
- Inflammatory arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks joints, causing them to become inflamed. This can cause joint erosion as well as internal organ damage.
- Arthritis can also be caused by a virus or fungus in the joint.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptoms of arthritis are
- Pain and aching around joints
- Joint swelling
- Joints that feel warm to the touch
- Stiffness in the joints
These symptoms may be mild or severe depending on the type of arthritis a person has.
If you are experiencing symptoms that you suspect are due to arthritis, your doctor will be able to determine the cause of your symptoms by performing blood tests, imaging, and a physical exam.
In come cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist who deals specifically with arthritis and joint health.
Treatment varies from person to person depending on the severity of the case and the type of arthritis. But some common treatments are
If you suspect you may have arthritis it is important to consult with your doctor as soon as possible in order to narrow down what type of arthritis you have. Addressing your symptoms in a timely manner will help prevent serious joint or organ damage and help you determine what treatment is best.