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More than 52 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. have some type of arthritis. The hallmark symptom of arthritis is joint pain or stiffness – usually worse in the morning or after inactivity. Other symptoms include fatigue, eye problems, poor appetite, fever, rash and joints that are red or warm to the touch. Symptoms can develop suddenly or slowly, but if you have any of these signs for more than two weeks, it’s time to contact us.

Arthritis Causes and Diagnosis

Contributing factors include genes, environmental triggers, an immune system that doesn’t work properly and lifestyle factors, such as obesity and injury. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to slowing disease progression and/or preventing joint (or organ) damage. To diagnose your condition, we will:

  • Ask your personal and family medical history
  • Examine your joints for swelling and tenderness
  • Test your range of motion
  • Look for rashes, mouth sores, muscle weakness, eye problems or involvement of internal organs, such as the heart or lungs

We may also order X-rays or lab tests to look for disease patterns or rule out other causes.

Types of Arthritis and Related Conditions

The most common types of arthritis and related conditions are:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common, called “wear and tear” arthritis because it is caused by the breakdown of cartilage (the tissue that covers the ends of joints) over time.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease, which means the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is also an autoimmune disease. In addition to joint inflammation, it may cause rashes or scaly skin, nail disease and pain in the back or tendons.
  • Juvenile Arthritis (JA) affects teens and kids; the most common type is juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).
  • Gout occurs when uric acid builds up in the body, especially the joints. This causes pain and swelling in the big toes, ankles and knees.
  • Fibromyalgia involves chronic widespread pain in the muscles and fatigue.

 Treating Arthritis

Arthritis treatment typically requires multiple approaches:

  • Medication – over the counter and prescription medications available as a pill, cream, gel, injec­tion or IV infusion
  • Complementary and alternative medicine therapies – including include supplements, touch therapies (massage, physical therapy), therapeutic exercise (yoga and tai chi), acupuncture, biofeedback therapy, meditation and relaxation techniques
  • Healthy lifestyle habits – regular exercise and an anti-inflammatory diet (fruits, vege­tables, whole grains and healthy fats) to ease inflammation and pain and maintain a healthy weight to lessen joint impact

Finding the right treatment plan may take time. As your arthritis changes, your treatment may also change. Questions? Contact us.

Source: Arthritis Foundation

Dr Leo Bronston

Author Dr Leo Bronston

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