Arthritis Facts and Treatments

Arthritis is the number one reason for disability in the United States. Anybody can get it, although certain factors increase your risk of getting it. If you know you are likely to get arthritis, begin taking preventative measures right away; it may still develop as you get older but taking precautions early on can reduce the severity of the disease. Explore your treatment options, decide what you should ask about then talk to your doctor.

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What arthritis treatments are available?


There are many herbs, vitamins, and minerals that have been proven to reduce inflammation and discomfort for people with arthritis. Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine are very common joint supplements that reduce pain and inflammation. MSM reduces pain and inflammation. It is often combined with chondroitin and glucosamine and sold for joint health.

Rose hips reduce inflammation. It is high in vitamin C. Plain old gelatin has helped people, too. Avocado-soybean unsaponifiables (ASU) may give some relief. If you want to explore your herbal, vitamin and mineral treatment options, talk to a herbalist. They are experts who have studied herbal medicine extensively. Get recommendations then speak to your doctor. Some herbs, vitamins, and minerals can cause prescription medications to be less effective or may have an adverse interaction.

Frankincense, myrrh and orange essential oils are a few of the oils commonly used to reduce inflammation. A few drops can be added to a diffuser and inhaled for 30 to 45 minutes. The oils enter your system through your sinuses. You can also put a drop or two into coconut or argan oil and massage it into inflamed joints. Always use therapeutic grade essential oils and be sure to talk to your doctor about them first. They can have negative interactions and side effects.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen are often recommended to reduce inflammation and pain. If the arthritis is more advanced, your doctor will prescribe something stronger. Don't just keep increasing the amount of OTC NSAIDs you take. They can do damage. Also, medications your doctor can prescribe for you may be able to treat the source of the problem, rather than just making the symptoms go away.

Try to stay active and get as much exercise as you can. Little impact or no impact exercise will strengthen your muscles and ligaments which will reduce the stress put on your joints. Physical therapy may be recommended when the joint damage is severe.


Who is at risk of developing arthritis?


Everyone is in danger of developing arthritis. Men, women, and children get this disease. In fact, over 50 million adults currently have arthritis as well as 300,000 kids. Women are more likely to develop arthritis than men. It is also more common in older people.

Some people are also predisposed to the disease due to heredity. If one or both of your parents have it, your risk of developing arthritis are increased.

People who are overweight are more likely to develop arthritis as they age. The excess weight is hard on your joints.

If you have a job or hobby that requires repetitive movements, you are at an increased risk of developing arthritis in the joints you use most often. Constant squatting and lifting or repetitive arm movements can result in arthritis in the hips, knees, elbows or shoulder.


Is arthritis preventable?


It isn't 100% preventable, but there are steps you can take to limit the likelihood of developing arthritis or reduce the severity of the disease. Eat healthily, keep your weight under control, get plenty of exercises, try to limit repetitive movements and avoid injuries to your joints.

Low-impact exercise is best. Go for regular walks. Park farther away from work or the store and take the stairs. Tai chi is also an excellent exercise for your joints as is swimming. Yoga is a great no-impact exercise. It keeps you limber, strengthens muscles, improves circulation and bolsters your immune system.

If you have a job that requires repetitive movement, try to alter your routine if you can. There are also braces that will help reduce wear and tear on your joints.


What is arthritis?


Arthritis is a joint disease that can affect any joint in your body, from fingers to toes, knees, elbows and hips. It is inflammation, but the exact cause of the inflammation and joint damage varies, depending on the type of arthritis you have.

The most common kind of arthritis is osteoarthritis. When you have this kind of arthritis, the cartilage in your joints wears away prematurely. The result is the bones in your joints rubbing together without the protective, lubricating cushion that healthy cartilage provides. Your joints become swollen, stiff and painful. You eventually lose the strength in your joints because of the damage.

Infectious arthritis is caused by bacteria, a fungus or a virus. Some common causes are STD's like gonorrhea or chlamydia, salmonella and hepatitis C. Quick treatment of these diseases can resolve the infection before your joints are severely damaged; however, arthritis may persist even after the infection has been successfully treated.

Inflammatory arthritis is a type of arthritis that is caused by excessive inflammation due to an autoimmune problem. It occurs when your immune system goes haywire and attacks your joints. There are many different kinds of inflammatory arthritis. Psoriatic and Rheumatoid arthritis are common types. At this time, it appears that inflammatory arthritis is brought on by environmental factors combined with a genetic predisposition. Smoking, for example, may lead to rheumatoid arthritis in someone who is genetically predisposed to it.

There are over 100 different kinds of arthritis. You will have to discuss your symptoms with your doctor, have blood tests done and get some bone scans to figure out what type you have.

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