May is observed as National Arthritis Awareness Month in the United States. With 1 in every 5 adults and 300,000 children affected by arthritis, the disease is the leading cause of disability in the country. This is the best time for those with this chronic condition to take control by learning more about it and understanding how to preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life.
Different Types of Arthritis
There are different forms of arthritis. The most common type is osteoarthritis or joint damage caused by wear and tear of cartilage due to aging. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused when something goes wrong with the immune system and it attacks the joints instead of protecting them. Then there’s infectious arthritis which is the result of a bacterium, virus or fungus, and metabolic arthritis which occurs due to abnormally high levels of uric acid in the body.
Don’t ignore symptoms that persist
What’s common about all these types of arthritis is that they generally cause swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. So if you experience any of these symptoms in one or more joints and they prevent you from going about your normal routine, it’s important that you consult a physician at a professional health care center.
Diagnosing the condition will involve a physical exam, blood tests and MRI scanning to help determine the type of arthritis. In leading multispecialty healthcare centers, a team of specialists from various disciplines including pain management doctors will collaborate to develop customized treatment regimens to suit each patient’s needs. Prompt diagnosis and early, aggressive treatment is the key to preserving function and preventing further joint damage and other serious health problems.
Arthritis and Risk of Heart Disease
Physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are essential to control arthritis. People with RA may have high levels of inflammation which increases the risk of heart disease, and this risk is higher if they have other conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52% of people with diabetes have arthritis, 53% with arthritis have high blood pressure, 66% with arthritis are overweight, and about 20% of people with arthritis smoke. This means that to reduce cardiovascular risk, you need to:
- Get proper treatment for arthritis to reduce inflammation and disease progression
- Work to reduce the conventional risk factors for heart disease – smoking, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity, obesity and diabetes – all of which are correlated with arthritis.
Observe National Arthritis Awareness Month
If you have arthritis, learn about your treatment options, pain management, arthritis diet, exercise and weight loss, comorbidities or additional disorders, and how to cope with the impact that the condition can have on your life. The silver lining is that a comprehensive and watchful approach can not only achieve improvement but could also help patients attain remission and get relief from the medical symptoms of the disease.