Do you wake up feeling tired and stiff? You may be experiencing signs of arthritis. If so, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that 66 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis.
While there’s no cure for arthritis, it’s possible to decrease arhtritis symptoms. You CAN boost your energy, relieve those aching joints, and have a good quality of life, even with arthritis. But first you have to know what you’re dealing with…
What Is Arthritis?
There are over 100 different types of arthritis so the signs of arthritis are many. You MAY have arthritis if you’re experiencing…
- Pain in one or more joints that worsens with movement or activity.
- Stiffness first thing in the morning that lessens as the day goes on.
- Swollen joints.
- Reddened joints and/or joints that are warm to touch.
- Loss of range of movement in one or more of your joints.
- Deformities in your hands or feet.
- Fatigue most of the time.
- Low grade fevers.
- Joints that are tender to touch.
- Symptoms of psoriasis.
- Generalized wide spread muscle pain.
- Relief of pain when you use over the counter anti-inflammatory medications.
- Relief of pain with the use of heat or cold.
And if you have a close family member who’s been diagnosed with arthritis.
If you are experiencing one or more of these signs of arthritis, see your family physician or a rheumatologist. Find out if you do in fact have arthritis and if so, which kind…
O.A. And R.A. Signs Of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis (O.A.) and rhematoid arthritis (R.A.)are the two most common types.
You may hear it referred to as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects the cartilage or protective cushions on the ends of your bones. As the cartilage wears down, it will sometimes flake off leaving you with bone on bone. This leads to joint pain and swelling.
Any joint can be affected by osteoarthritis, but the ones most commonly afffected are the spine, hips, knees and hands. Osteoarthritis tends to occur in joints that are overly used or that have been injured in the past. Signs of arthritis related to osteoarthritis are…
- Pain which worsens with use of the effected joint.
- Stiffness in the effected joints which is worst first thing in the morning but gets better as the day goes on.
- Tenderness to touch of the effected joints.
- Swelling of the effected joints.
- It doesn’t have to be symmetrical. (If you have O.A. in your right knee, your left one could be fine.)
You may experience some or all of these symptoms. Many women are able to function normally with osteoarthritis.
If your symptoms are mild to moderate, weight loss, gentle forms of exercise and physical therapy can help.
For more advanced symptoms, over the counter anti-inflammatory medications, prescription medications and injections are sometimes used.
Surgery is for the more severe stages and when more conservative measures fail to relieve the symptoms.
R.A. is an auto-immune disorder which attacks your joint spaces (synovial spaces). In auto-immune disorders the body attacks itself for unknown reasons. It does NOT occur because a joint was overly used or injured.
There are many other auto-immune disorders in addition to rheumatoid arthritis, so you will definately want to be evaluated by a physician if you have symptoms suggestive of this disease. Rheumatoid arthritis usuallly occurs in people 40 – 60 years old but can also appear in younger people, even children.
Because this is an auto immune disorder, the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can vary greatly from person to person. However, the most common signs of arthitis associated with R.A. are …
- Swollen, painful,warm joints.
- R.A. is often in the hands and wrists, but it can occur in any joint in the body.
- R.A. tends to be on both sides of the body, in the same body parts, at once.
- Morning stiffness that lasts at least 30 minutes.
The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can come and go. You may feel very well at times and then, without warning, suffer a flare up. If you are experiencing some or all of these symptoms and suspect you may have rheumatoid arthritis, it’s important to see a physician.
This form of arthritis is diagnosed with blood tests. Early treatment not only relieves pain but prevents some of the deformities and loss of function that this disease causes.
The cause of rhematoid arthritis is not known, nor is there a cure. But stress has been shown to worsen the symptoms. Leading a healthy lifestyle including doing gentle exercises, eating heatlhy and managing your stress can help relieve symptoms and decrease flare ups.
Less Common Types Of Arthritis
Here are a few of the other types of arthritis with some of their more common signs of arthritis…
Systemis Lupus Erythematosus:
Known as lupus, this disease can look a lot like rheumatoid arthritis and is in the auto-immune disease family. One tell-tale symptom is a butterfly-shaped rash that covers the nose and cheeks.
This disease is a chronic life-long inflammatory condition. It can affect any part of the body. Some of the symptoms of lupus are swollen, red, stiff joints, sensativity to light, memory impairment, depression and fatigue. A rhematologist will be able to discern if you have lupus.
Learning to balance exercise and rest is vital for women who have lupus.
According to The Arthritis Foundation 5 – 23% of people who suffer from psoriasis (a disease which produces reddened, raised, dry, flakey skin) will also develop psoratic arthritis. Some signs of arthritis related to Psoriatic Arthritis are pain, swelling and warmth in the joints.
This is a chronic pain disorder, whose exact cause is unknow. It sometimes occurs following trauma or injury. The American College Of Rhematology has 2 criteria for making a diagnosis of fibromyalgia…
1. A 3 month or longer history of widespread pain involving all 4 quadrants of the body (above the waist right and left sides, below the waist right and left sides).
2. A physical examination demonstrating 11 out of 18 accepted points on the body are tender when 9 lbs of pressure are applied to them.
Aside from pain and tenderness, women suffering from fibromyalgia may experience a number of other symptoms including…
- night sweats
- memory issues
- tension or migraine headaches
- chemical sensativities or allergic reactions
- balance issues
- irritable bowel syndrome
- increased symptoms in response to sress
The symptoms of fibromyalgia mimic those of other diseases, so if you’re having some or all of these symptoms, be sure to have a thorough exam by a physician familiar with this disorder.
Some things to try if you’re diagnosed with fibromyalgia… gentle exercise, good nutrition, meditation, relaxation techniques, physical therapy and massage. Many women with fibromyalgia are leading active fulfilling lives.
I Have The Signs Of Arthritis, Now What?
You’ve noticed the signs of arthritis and seen your physician for an accurate diagnosis. Next stop: lifestlye changes.
You may well be able to manage your arthritis without medication or treatment. Or perhaps your symptoms are bad enough that you’ve decided you need surgery.
Either way, learning how to exercise with arthritis, eat a diet rich in foods that fight inflammation, and manage your weight and stress, will help you decrease pain, move with ease and keep doing the things you enjoy in the years ahead.
Learn More About Arthritis
For up to date, accurate information on arthritis or find an arthritis exercise class near you, visit the website of the Arthritis Foundation.