Arthritis is a painful joint disorder that affects more than 50 million Americans, or more than 1 in 5. This condition is among the most common causes of lost time at work, hospitalization, and short and long term disability across the country, costing the U.S. economy $80.8 billion on medical care in 2003 alone, according to data published in Medscape.
What are the Different Types of Arthritis?
The joints between bones are made of connective tissues called cartilage. This flexible and supportive tissue protects the bones from directly contacting each other. During arthritis, the cartilage wears out, causing the bone caps to grind against each other. Experts have categorized arthritis into two
osteoarthritis, or the wear and tear of the joint, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition wherein the body attacks the membrane that coats the joint.
Am I At Risk of Arthritis?
Individuals at highest risk of arthritis are the following
• Older adults
• Those with family history of arthritis
• Those who are overweight or obese
• Those who have previously suffered from a joint injury
How Can I Tell that I have Arthritis?
When experiencing stiffness, tenderness, swelling, and redness in one or more of your joints, and you have one or more of the factors listed above, consult your doctor for an accurate arthritis diagnosis. Arthritis tests may include physical examination, imaging tests (CT scan, X-rays, MRI), or arthroscopy, or the insertion of an arthroscope into your joint to visually check for arthritis.
How is Arthritis Treated?
An arthritis diagnosis may prompt your doctor to prescribe you medications to help you deal with pain and swelling. Therapy can also be recommended as complementary treatment. In extreme instances, surgery may be required.
There are also some alternative ways in dealing with arthritis. Mucuna pruriens, or cowhage, for instance, are effective in treating arthritis in many parts of the world, including Africa and tropical Asia, since ancient times.
If you know that you have an increased risk of arthritis, a healthy and active lifestyle may keep this degenerative joint condition at bay. Controlling your weight, exercising regularly, and eating healthy are just some of the things that you can do to lessen your risk of this disease.