Arthritis is a painful condition that affects the joints. It can also make you feel extremely fatigued and include redness, swelling, joint tenderness and a reduced range of motion. Depending on the form of arthritis, the severity of the disease, and the exact areas affected, you may face challenges managing otherwise simple, everyday tasks such as opening a jar, getting into and out of a car, holding objects or walking. While arthritis can certainly be difficult, and downright frustrating at times, it is certainly treatable. Below is a handy guide to surviving arthritis to help you live more fully.
Surviving Arthritis: What You Need to Know
The first thing to do if you suspect you have arthritis is to be evaluated by a qualified medical doctor. There are many forms of arthritis, as well as several disorders that can mimic arthritis. Forms of arthritis and arthritis-like disorders include: gout and pseudogout, lupus, vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels), bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis (also called wear and tear arthritis), fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
In order to make a proper diagnosis, your doctor will first want to conduct a thorough exam and document your medical history. He or she will probably also order certain lab tests to rule out other disorders and test for specific markers in your blood that accompany arthritis. Your doctor will look for signs and symptoms of arthritis, such as stiffness, redness, and swelling of the joints, and may also order X-rays or other tests.
Once you have been diagnosed, your doctor can advise you about appropriate medications, treatments, any necessary joint replacement procedures, diet, exercise and other therapies and treatments. It is very important to remember to stay in motion as much as possible. The simple fact of the matter is that we lose what we do not use. If you do not stretch your muscles and joints, your range of motion will continue to decline, and you will have less muscle power to support your joints.
You should ask your doctor about any exercise program to make sure that it will not increase your symptoms or cause other health issues. Many people, for instance, find that low impact exercise done in a pool helps them retain function and avoid pain. You can also use adaptive items and products to help work around everyday tasks like opening jars, reaching for items with extendable grippers, and chairs that rise to help you stand or sit.
If you have arthritis, you should also try to avoid stress and eat a healthy diet rich in natural foods that tend to decrease inflammation like ginger, tomatoes, almonds, cold water fish and berries. Your doctor and pharmacist can also advise you about supplements that may help improve your symptoms, decrease pain, or help you feel more energized. Be sure to talk to your doctor and or pharmacist before taking any over the counter medications and supplements, as some can interfere with other medications.
If you or a loved one is living with arthritis, we are here to help. For more information about our advanced arthritis treatments, or to schedule an appointment, please contact Orthopaedic Associates at (440) 892-1440 to schedule an appointment with one of our highly trained orthopaedic physicians.