Arthritis: Basic Facts

Arthritis symptoms of pain and stiffness are usually caused by degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis),they are the common types. The more than 100 types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis and gout. A diagnosis is necessary in order to develop a treatment plan.

Your Life From Day To Day And How RA Impacted You:

When you think how RA impacts the body, it’s vital to know that RA sufferers are unique to themselves and that no two people are exactly alike — and every day can be different.Like everything in life, some people may find that their symptoms come and go. While others may experience symptoms on a daily basis, some days RA symptoms can be very strong and severe. Some other times they may be less noticeable.

You And Your RA

“Painful,” “uncomfortable,” “restrictive” — oftentimes people use these words to describe RA. Get to know the basics of RA, the role of inflammation, and the impact it has on you

RA is a systemic disease.

This means it can affect more than 1 part of the body.

RA can occur at almost any age.

It tends to develop between the ages of 40 and 70.

Inflammation. How it impacts other RA symptoms.
The inflammation of RA can play a major role in creating joint problems. It can bring about tenderness and swelling in the joints, as well as significant stiffness and pain. While RA can affect any joint, it most often involves the small joints in the hands and feet.

Common RA symptoms include:

Stiffness in the morning and joint pain
Swelling and limited motion of many joints
Overall feeling of being ill


You Must Move to Help Prevent Joint Pain
Keep joints healthy by keeping them moving. The more you move, the less stiffness you’ll have. Whether you’re reading, working, or watching TV, change positions often. Move away from your desk or your chair and move around.MOVE is your action word!

Joint Pain and Arthritis

With overuse or injury, cartilage on the end of the joints can break down, causing a narrowing of the joint space and the bones to rub together. Painful bony growths, or spurs, may form. This can lead to swelling, stiffness, and possibly osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis. Another type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease characterized by extreme inflammation.

Protect Your Body including your joints.
Your joints are most vulnerable for injuries. So protecting your joints your whole life is important. Wear protective gear like elbow and knee pads when taking part in high-risk activities like skating.It makes a lot of sense to wear braces and other protective gear as investment for your future peaceful life.



Knowing Your Arthritis

Before we go any further, we must first distinguish the differences between these two types of Arthritis:

1) Osteoarthritis?

2) Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I hope the very brief summary below should be enough to take us through in understanding them!

What is Osteoarthritis?

If osteoarthritis had been with us from the beginning of time,one should wonder why in today’s advances in Medical technologies we still can not find the cure?
While the exact cause of OA is unknown, joint damage can be due to repetitive movement (also known as “wear and tear”). It can also begin as the result of an injury. Either way, with OA there’s erosion of the cartilage, the part of the joint that covers the ends of the bones.

Some factors that may increase your risk of developing OA:
Joint Alignment
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system attacks normal joint tissues, causing inflammation of the joint lining.

Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

If you experience some of these symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor:
Pain and stiffness lasting for more than 1 hour in the morning or after a long rest
Joint inflammation in the joints closest to the hand, such as wrist and fingers, although the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees, ankles, and feet can also be affected
Symmetrical pattern of inflammation, meaning both sides of the body are usually affected at the same time
Fatigue, an occasional fever, and a general sense of not feeling well (called malaise)

Effects of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis can cause joint inflammation, which can affect the ability to go about your daily activities. If left untreated, RA can worsen and destroy joints. After the onset of the disease, some of the effects of RA are as follows:
Tendons become inflamed and may rupture (tear apart).
Swelling can severely damage or destroy ligaments that hold joints together. It can also damage joint cartilage and bone.
Erosion of the bones of the joint can occur, causing pain and deformity.

Rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis:

Persistent discomfort and swelling in multiple joints on both sides of your body, make an appointment to see your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow disease progression.


Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis:  6 Common Mistakes To Avoid.

Most people with rheumatoid arthritis can live full, active lives despite their disease. But living a good life with RA often means you need to work at managing your disease and get the help you need. Take care to avoid these six common mistakes.

Mistake 1: Not Seeing a Rheumatologist

If you’re like most people with RA, the first doctor you saw for your joint symptoms was a primary care physician. But a specialist has more training in treating RA.

Just 20 years ago, RA was often treated with medications that relieved pain but didn’t stop ongoing joint damage. Today, there are many new, effective — and highly complex — treatments for rheumatoid arthritis that do both. It’s important to see a rheumatologist, who has the training and experience to prescribe and monitor those medications.

If you haven’t seen a rheumatologist, your primary care doctor should be able to refer you to one. The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) also lists rheumatologists in your area.

Mistake 2: Becoming a Couch Potato

When you have joint pain and fatigue, it’s hard to get up and get moving. But regular exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your health. While rest is also important for managing your disease, too much inactivity can make pain, fatigue, and stiffness worse.

Even when your RA is flaring, you can — and should — do gentle range-of-motion exercises. Range-of-motion exercises help maintain joint movement and flexibility by taking joints through their full span of movements. No weights are used.
You may also be able to gently exercise in water during flares.

When your disease is less active, you should be more active. Add exercises to build muscle strength and joint stability and improve aerobic fitness.

Talk to your rheumatologist or a physical or occupational therapist about the best and safest exercises for you. Walking can be a good exercise for people with RA, and it doesn’t even require going to a gym! Warm-water aerobic exercise may be another choice to consider — the water gives sore joints some additional support.

Mistake 3: Skipping Doctor Appointments

While you may not feel the need to see your rheumatologist when your RA is less active, keeping your appointments is still important.

During regular visits, your doctor will:

Monitor the course of your disease
Determine how well your treatment is working.
Look for harmful side effects
Adjust your treatment, if necessary
In addition to seeing your doctor, you also may need periodic lab tests or X-rays. It’s important that keep those appointments, too.

Mistake 4: Not Taking Prescribed Medications

Pain relievers and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help your joints feel better. But they do nothing to stop the joint damage that is going on inside. That requires a more powerful disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) or biologic response modifier, or both.

Years ago, doctors started RA treatment with aspirin and other pain relievers. If the disease got worse, they then prescribed a DMARD. Today, doctors are likely to prescribe a DMARD or a biologic (or both) early on, particularly for aggressive RA.

In fact, ACR guidelines recommend that all people diagnosed with RA be given a DMARD, regardless of how active or severe their RA is. Studies have shown that starting powerful drugs earlier may be more effective in reducing or preventing joint damage.

If your rheumatologist recommends a DMARD or biologic and you don’t take it, you may be risking serious joint damage that cannot be repaired. If you have active RA and your doctor has not recommended one of these drugs, ask if you need one.

Mistake 5: Skipping Medication When You Feel Good

You may be tempted to skip your medications on days when you’re feeling better. But failing to take your medications could cause the pain — or even your rheumatoid arthritis — to get worse.

If you take medication for pain and inflammation, you should take it consistently. Missing a dose could cause the pain to return, and it may be more difficult to relieve. The same is true for joint inflammation. It’s better to keep it under control than allow it to flare and try to get it under control again.

To control your RA, some medications need to stay in your bloodstream at therapeutic levels. If you miss a dose of medication, you should take it as soon as you remember (but don’t take a double dose). If you miss a dose often — even if you are feeling better at the time — blood levels of the drug may drop and could cause a flare of your RA.
Mistake 6: Accepting Depression

Living with RA isn’t easy. It can be painful and unpredictable and make it hard to do the things you enjoy. It’s understandable that you may become sad at times, but you don’t have to accept depression as a part of your disease.

Ask your doctor to refer you to a mental health professional who works with people with chronic diseases. Counseling may help you develop better skills for coping with RA. Attending a support group, such as those offered by the Arthritis Foundation, may also help.

If you still experience feelings of depression, let your doctor know. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis benefit from taking antidepressants. Simply accepting depression can take the joy out of life and make it more difficult to manage your disease.

1 in 10 of U.S. Adults Physically Limited by Arthritis

Health officials say obesity epidemic has widened the pool of disabled

More than 50 million Americans have arthritis, and almost half of them can’t perform normal daily activities because of the disease, U.S. health officials said Thursday.

Aging and obesity are the chief culprits behind this growing health problem, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The increase in arthritis definitely has to do with the aging of our population, but it’s also potentially linked to the obesity epidemic,” said the study’s lead author, CDC epidemiologist Kamil Barbour.

The report, published in the Nov. 8 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is based on data from the 2010-2012 National Health Interview Survey.

The researchers found that almost one-quarter of U.S. adults — or 52.5 million — have some form of arthritis. And the disease limits mobility for almost 10 percent of adults — 22.7 million.

Osteoarthritis, which is related to normal wear and tear of joints, is the most common type of arthritis. However, the report also includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout and fibromyalgia.

The number of Americans with arthritis didn’t surprise Barbour. “We expect 57 million Americans to have arthritis by 2030,” he said.

The unexpected finding was the degree to which arthritis limits Americans’ physical activity. “It actually exceeds our estimates,” he noted. “We projected we would be at 22 million in 2020.”

Obesity could be the cause of this surge, Barbour said. More than one-third of Americans are obese, according to the CDC.

“We know that obesity is strongly linked to osteoarthritis, and knee osteoarthritis is one of the most prevalent conditions in the population,” he said.

The researchers also found that about half of adults with heart disease or diabetes also had arthritis. For more than one-quarter of these adults, arthritis limited their activities, Barbour pointed out.

In addition, almost one-third of obese adults had arthritis, 15 percent of whom were physically limited by the condition, he added.

Experts said the report is cause for concern.

“This report confirms that arthritis is a huge public health problem,” said Dr. Patience White, vice president for Public Health Policy and Advocacy at the Arthritis Foundation and a professor of medicine and pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

What is worrisome is that more people with arthritis also have limitations of their activity, she agreed. “This is really a warning; it’s saying you really need to do something about this,” she said.

Although you can’t stop aging, you can decrease the impact of arthritis, White noted.

“The reason why the activity limitation has gone up for people with arthritis is because of obesity,” she said. Losing weight and exercising are the keys to fighting the disease, added White.

The hand and the knee are the joints most commonly affected by osteoarthritis, White said.

“Just a little weight reduction and physical activity decreases osteoarthritis of the knee and takes away your pain,” she said. “It’s amazing what just a little bit can do to stem the tide.”

White noted that many people with knee arthritis will end up getting a knee replacement. “But that’s not the answer,” she said. “If you are obese, the outcome of a knee replacement is much worse.”

According to Consumer Reports, a knee replacement can cost anywhere from $17,800 to $42,750, depending on where in the United States it’s done. Most insurance, including Medicare, covers the procedure, but there are additional costs involved in recovery and rehabilitation.

“If you have a little bit of knee pain, you need to get active now, because you really can prevent this,” White said.

How Fibromyalgia Affect Your Brain

Studies link fibromyalgia and depression. In fact, about three out of every 10 people with fibromyalgia also have major depression at the time of their diagnosis.

Some researchers feel that depression leads to changes in brain chemistry. Others look at abnormalities of the sympathetic nervous system — the part of the nervous system that determines how you handle stress and emergencies. These abnormalities, they contend, may lead to the release of substances that cause more sensitivity to pain. The result is fibromyalgia with its chronic pain and feelings of depression.

Learning more about the connection between fibromyalgia and depression can help you seek appropriate medical treatment from your doctor. That includes asking your doctor about antidepressants.

By following an appropriate fibromyalgia treatment plan and getting the support of family and friends, you can take control of your fibromyalgia. You can also get control over your symptoms of depression and improve your quality of life.
How to tell you are depressed:

Sadness is a normal reaction to loss, life’s struggles, or an injured self-esteem. Depression surpasses sadness and becomes a problem that affects your whole life. People who are depressed commonly experience:

    loss of pleasure in enjoyable activities
    weight loss or gain
    low energy
    feelings of guilt
    a sense of worthlessness
    thoughts about death

These thoughts, physical changes, and feelings interfere with daily life.

Depression that lasts for weeks at a time may be characterized as major or clinical depression. There are other types of depression. Common types include chronic depression — known as dysthymia, bipolar depression, and seasonal depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
What Is the Link Between Fibromyalgia and Depression?

The stress from fibromyalgia’s pain and fatigue can cause anxiety and social isolation. The chronic deep muscle and tender point pain can result in less activity. That causes you to become more withdrawn and can also lead to depression. It is also possible that anxiety and depression are part of fibromyalgia, just like the pain.

Depression and fibromyalgia can greatly interfere with the way you manage your activities at home or at work. So it is important to openly discuss any symptoms of depression you have with your doctors.
Do People With Fibromyalgia Know They’re Depressed?

Some people with fibromyalgia and chronic pain may be aware they are depressed. Others may not be sure they are depressed. Nevertheless, they know something is wrong.

Symptoms of depression with chronic pain may include:

    decreased energy
    difficulty concentrating or making decisions
    feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or irritability
    loss of interest in nearly all activities
    persistent sad or anxious mood
    uncontrollable tearfulness

In severe cases, depression with chronic pain can lead to thoughts of death or suicide.

Does Stress Trigger Depression With Fibromyalgia?

The stress of living with chronic pain and relentless fatigue can put a person into “overload.” That can result in overwhelming feelings of nervousness and anxiety. What isn’t clear is whether a stressful life brings about the fibromyalgia or if having fibromyalgia leads to stress.

No matter which comes first, stress adds to problems of anger, distractibility, and irritability. It can even lead to further physical changes, such as high blood pressure or heart problems. Most patients feel worsening of pain and fatigue when they have more stress. Sometimes, severe stress occurs just before the disease starts.

Does Depression have Common with Chronic Pain Conditions?

Feelings of depression are common with all types of chronic pain, including headache, back and neck pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, and the pain of fibromyalgia. For example, the prevalence of major depression in people with chronic low back pain is three to four times greater than in the general population.

By the same token, having a depressive disorder also increases the risk of developing chronic pain. Patients who are depressed have greater pain. They describe greater hindrance from pain and display more pain behaviors than pain patients who are not depressed.

People with chronic pain such as fibromyalgia often become depressed and isolated. As a result, they spend more time away from other people, even people they love, such as family and friends. Instead of focusing on their personal lives or the lives of their loved ones, they become increasingly focused on their pain and suffering, which is very real. Adding to the frustration are the repeated appointments with health care providers to try to find relief and the resulting costs.
What Happens When Fibromyalgia Goes Untreated?

If you avoid treating fibromyalgia, you may descend into a spiral. The chronic pain and fatigue limits your physical activities and exercise. That, in turn, weakens your body. You may begin to feel isolated, fearful, suspicious, lonely, and afraid, which can strain relationships.

As time goes on and your symptoms continue, you may have trouble keeping your job. Doing so can be especially difficult if you have many absences or errors because of your symptoms such as fatigue, concentration problems, and pain. If your income is lost, you will have more stress. The longer your chronic pain and other symptoms continue without relief, the more likely you will be to experience stress-related symptoms.
Are There Ways to Ease Depression With Fibromyalgia?

It’s important to understand that fibromyalgia is more than the deep muscle pain and tender points you feel. It encompasses everything about you — your feelings, emotions, and attitude; the way you respond to stress; and the way you communicate with others.

The good news is, though, that while there is no cure, the fibromyalgia pain and feelings of depression can be successfully treated.

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