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Understanding Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Understanding Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Understanding Arthritis: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

The word "arthritis" is often used as a generic term for joint pain, but it's much more than an occasional ache. It serves as a signal from your body that something's wrong in the intricate network of joints. As May is Arthritis Awareness Month, let's educate ourselves on the causes, symptoms, and treatments for arthritis.

The Root of the Problem: Causes of Arthritis

More than 53 million Americans have arthritis.1 It can stem from an autoimmune attack, like in rheumatoid arthritis, or simply from the wear and tear of life, known as osteoarthritis. Other times, it's a souvenir from an old injury, a joint infection, a metabolic disorder, or a gift from your genetic lottery.

Spotting the Red Flags: Symptoms of Arthritis

Are your joints in pain swelling up, or stiffening? Arthritis could be the cause. It can turn simple tasks into huge efforts and make it sound like grinding as the joint moves. The main symptoms are:

  • Joint Pain: A persistent discomfort that may be sharp or dull.
  • Stiffness: Difficulty moving a joint or reduced range of motion, especially after periods of inactivity or in the morning.
  • Swelling: Inflammation around the joints, leading to puffiness or enlargement.
  • Redness: The skin over the affected joint may appear redder than usual.
  • Tenderness: The joint may feel tender when you apply light pressure to or near it.

Fighting Back: Ways to Manage Arthritis

Managing arthritis effectively often involves a combination of strategies tailored to individual needs and the type and stage of arthritis. Here are some options:

  • Medications: Taking prescribed medications as directed can help reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Physical Activity: Regular exercise strengthens muscles around joints, increases flexibility, and can reduce pain.
  • Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight reduces stress on weight-bearing joints, decreasing pain and improving function.
  • Healthy Diet: An anti-inflammatory diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can help manage symptoms.
  • Heat and Cold Therapies: Applying heat or cold for 15 minutes at a time can relieve stiffness and pain.
  • Physical Therapy: A physical therapist can provide exercises and techniques to preserve joint function.
  • Joint Protection: Using braces and learning proper body mechanics can protect joints from further damage.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgical options like joint replacement may be considered to restore function. Most joint replacements can be performed as outpatient procedures allowing patients to be discharged home on the same day as the surgery.

Don't let arthritis restrict you any longer. It's time to rise above the constraints of chronic knee or hip pain towards a more active and fulfilling life. The orthopedic specialists at Hinsdale Orthopaedics in Munster, Illinois treat arthritis symptoms with various methods to ensure your best outcomes. Schedule a consultation today.

AUTHOR: Bryant S. Ho MD is a board-certified in orthopedic surgery at Hinsdale Orthopaedics, with comprehensive training in the operative and non-operative management of adolescent and adult foot and ankle disorders.


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