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Arthritis: Take Steps to Reduce Pain, Increase Mobility

Arthritis: Take Steps to Reduce Pain, Increase Mobility

by Mary Beth TeSelle, Sponsored Content

Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in the United States, affecting about one in four adults, or more than 58 million men and women. May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, a time dedicated to sharing information about this condition and supporting those living with it.

More than 58 million Americans are living with arthritis, a condition that occurs when the cartilage cushioningthe bones in our joints wears down over time. The most commonly affected joints are in your hands, knees, hips and spine.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 32 million Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control. Osteoarthritis is known as a “wear and tear” condition, generally associated with aging. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down over time, causing inflammation and discomfort and pain.

Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine.

Arthritis affects people of all ages and all backgrounds. Risk factors include age (risk increases with age); gender (women are more likely to develop it); obesity; previous joint injuries; genetics; bone deformities; and certain metabolic disorders, including diabetes.

The number of adults who live in rural or urban areas that are affected by arthritis was the topic of a CDC study published in 2017. It found that one in three adults living in the most rural areas in the United States have arthritis. Among those adults, more than half of them experience challenges in daily life related to their arthritis, including difficulties with mobility and performing routine tasks.

Part of the issue for more remote arthritis sufferers may be lack of resources, including access to treatment options.

Common arthritis treatments include anti-inflammatory medicines available as pills, syrups, patches, gels, creams or injectables. These medicines may include simple over the counter pain relief options, prescription drugs or corticosteroids. Physical therapy, nerve stimulation and injection treatment or surgical treatment are also options for some patients.

Although there are ways to manage the symptoms of osteoarthritis, the damage done to joints can’t be reversed once it occurs.

Lifestyle choices can also help to reduce symptoms and relieve pain and may help to prevent arthritis from developing in the first place.

Being physically active is important. Experts recommend that adults engage in 150 minutes per week of at least moderate physical activity. Every minute of activity counts, and any activity is better than none. Moderate, low impact activities recommended include walking, swimming, or biking. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk of developing other chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

It’s also vital to protect your joints. Joint injuries can cause or worsen arthritis. Choose activities that are easy on the joints like walking, bicycling, and swimming. These low-impact activities have a low risk of injury and do not twist or put too much stress on the joints.

Maintaining a healthy weight is also a good step to prevent arthritis from developing or worsening. For people who are overweight or obese, losing weight reduces pressure on joints, particularly weight bearing joints like the hips and knees. Reaching or maintaining a healthy weight can relieve pain, improve function, and slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

Some arthritis sufferers also report finding relief through acupuncture and massage.

If you are living with arthritis, talk to your doctor about what treatment options are available to you and what steps you can take in your life to reduce your symptoms. Know that you don’t have to life in pain.

Recognizing Arthritis Symptoms

Osteoarthritis symptoms often develop slowly and worsen over time. Signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

• Pain: Affected joints might hurt during or after movement.

• Stiffness: Joint stiffness might be most noticeable upon awakening or after being inactive.

• Tenderness: Your joint might feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.

• Loss of flexibility: You might not be able to move your joint through its full range of motion.

• Grating sensation: You might feel a grating sensation when you use the joint, and you might hear popping, clicking or crackling.

• Bone spurs: These extra bits of bone, which feel like hard lumps, can form around the affected joint.

• Swelling: This might be caused by soft tissue inflammation around the joint.

If you or a loved one are experiencing one or more of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. A variety of treatment options are available, right here in our community.


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