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What You Should Know About Arthritis

What You Should Know About Arthritis

Chances are, you or someone you know has arthritis. While older people have a higher chance of developing arthritis, it can affect anyone, including children. It’s one of the most widespread health conditions in the United States, affecting about one in four adults. There’s currently no cure, but if you’re living with arthritis, there are ways to treat and manage your symptoms. If you don’t have arthritis, you can take action now to prevent it.

What is Arthritis?

The term ‘arthritis’ is actually a general term for more than 100 types of joint diseases. Symptoms vary from person to person, but joint pain and stiffness are the most common.

Typically, women, people from rural areas, and older populations are more likely to be diagnosed, but the condition is not limited to these groups. Your risk of developing arthritis depends on your family history, lifestyle, and personal behaviors.

Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are some of the most common types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes your cartilage—the hard, slippery tissue covering bones where they form a joint—to break down. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your immune system attacks your joints, beginning with the lining of the joints. If you have too much uric acid in your blood, you might develop gout, an inflammatory type of arthritis that usually affects one joint at a time.

Additionally, infections or underlying disease such as psoriasis or lupus, can cause other types of arthritis.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly half of people with arthritis are limited in their usual activities because of the condition. Symptoms range from moderate to severe and can include:

  • Joint pain and tenderness
  • Joint stiffness, especially after waking up or sitting for a while
  • Swelling around joints
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • A grating or crackling sensation when you move a joint

Risk Factors

  • Family history. Some types of arthritis run in families, so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have the disorder.
  • Your sex. Women are more likely than men to develop rheumatoid arthritis. However, men are more likely to develop gout.
  • Age. The risk of many types of arthritis increases as you get older.
  • Having a previous joint injury. If you’ve injured a joint, perhaps while playing a sport, you could be more likely to develop arthritis in that joint.
  • Obesity. Carrying excess weight puts stress on joints, especially your knees, hips, and spine.


Treatments vary depending on the severity of your symptoms and the type of arthritis you have. The main goals of treatment are to reduce your symptoms, prevent or delay disability, and improve your quality of life. Medication, non-drug therapies such as physical therapy or patient education, and surgery are all possible treatments for arthritis.

In addition to your doctor helping you get the treatment you need, there are ways you can manage your arthritis daily. These management strategies are also great prevention tips.

Management and Prevention

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Keeping off excess weight can help prevent stress on your joints.
  • Eat a diet low in sugar, alcohol, and purines. Excess unhealthy food and foods with purines (red meat, organ meat, seafood, and high-sugar items) can trigger painful flare-ups.
  • Not smoking or quitting smoking. Smoking is already unhealthy, but there’s evidence that it can increase your risk of rheumatoid arthritis too.
  • Incorporate more walking into your lifestyle. All adults, including those with arthritis, should get 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Taking brisk walks throughout the week can help reduce pain and fatigue, while improving your overall quality of life.
  • Avoid sports injuries. Stretch before being active, use the proper equipment, and receive the appropriate safety training.
  • Consider joining physical activity and self-management education programs. For those with arthritis, a structured program for physical activity, self-management, or both, can be extremely helpful in successfully managing your condition.

When to See Your Doctor

If your joint symptoms last three days or more, you should see your doctor to determine if you have arthritis. In early arthritis, there can be a window of opportunity to treat the disease before irreversible joint damage occurs.

Never hesitate to reach out to your provider if you think you have arthritis, or if you’re experiencing new or worsening symptoms. We’re right here.

Visit our website or call 301-663-9573 to learn more.