- By Dana Sparks
Arthritis is an Inflammation of the Joints
World Arthritis Day is Sunday October 12th
MANKATO, Minn. — Arthritis is one of the most common health problems in the United States. Millions of Americans have some form of arthritis that leads to pain, stiffness and loss of motion. Many are over the age of 65, but people of all ages, even children, can be affected.
“Simply put, arthritis is an inflammation of the joints,” says physicians assistant Becky Ness, P.A.-C., at Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato. “The most common symptoms are pain and stiffness, which typically worsens as you get older. The two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.”
Micah Dorfner, Mayo Clinic Health System, 507-284-5005, [email protected]
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own tissue, specifically the synovial membrane, which is the lining of the joint capsule. The tissue becomes inflamed and swollen and can eventually result in erosion of the bone, as well as joint deformity. Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age but is most common in people over the age of 40. It’s also much more common in women than in men.
While there is no cure for arthritis, there are some effective treatments to help relieve the symptoms. Some of the most common treatments include:
- Physical therapy
- Yoga or tai chi
- Canes or walkers
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which is usually caused by normal wear and tear of the joint’s cartilage. If the cartilage is damaged enough over a period of time, it results in bone contacting directly on bone, which can be painful and restrict movement. Osteoarthritis can also be caused by a trauma to the joint, such as a car accident or sports injury.
“Severe arthritis can dramatically reduce quality of life and make simple daily tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or walking comfortably, difficult,” says Ness. “The most common joints affected by arthritis are in the hands, feet, knees and hips. But there are things you can do to help prevent arthritis from occurring or worsening.”
- Weight loss. If you’re overweight, losing some pounds will take some of the stress off your joints. It may also increase your mobility.
- Exercise. Consistent exercise and remaining physically active can help keep your joints flexible and sturdy. Try low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, cycling or low-impact aerobics. These exercises put much less stress on your weight-bearing joints.
- Protect your joints. Be mindful to rest your joints. The daily strain of sitting or standing all day, lifting heavy things at work or around the house, and even wearing high heels can cause damage to your joints over time.
If you have concerns about arthritis and the health of your joints, be sure to consult with your health care provider for medical advice.