It’s easy to lump arthritis together as one problem, but arthritis actually isn’t one single disease. The term “arthritis” is used to refer to joint pain and diseases.
Arthritis is also often classified as a disorder that’s associated with elderly people and aging, but that’s not the case either.
Individuals of any age, sex, or race can develop arthritis, even children. It’s actually the leading cause of disability in the United States, with over 50 million adults diagnosed with arthritis.
Signs of Arthritis
If you believe that you may have arthritis, there are certain signs and symptoms that you should be on the lookout for. Be mindful of your symptoms and keep documentation of what you’re feeling so discuss the potential symptoms with your doctor.
Symptoms of arthritis come and go, meaning you’ll experience flare-ups and rough patches and some days will be worse than others. Sometimes arthritis will be okay for years, only to flare up randomly after a long period of time.
Common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Decreased range of motion
These symptoms can be mild to severe and may be different for each individual person.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis, but there are ways to slow the progression of the disease, depending on the type of arthritis you have. This is important as some types of arthritis can cause permanent irreversible changes to the body, which you’ll want to prevent if possible.
When to Speak with a Doctor
If you’re experiencing joint pain that just won’t go away, it may be time to check in with your doctor about what may be causing it. If your joint pain lasts more than three days or you have several episodes of intense joint pain within a month, these are key signs that you should make an appointment right away.
Pain, swelling, stiffness, and tenderness are all signs of inflammation in the joints. Arthritis may cause you to have difficulty moving your joints or participating in everyday activities.
If any of that sounds like what you’re experiencing, speak with your doctor right away.
Different Types of Arthritis
There are many different types of arthritis, so getting the correct diagnosis can be a challenge from time to time. However, if you bring a well-documented list of your symptoms to your doctor and ask for specific types of testing, you’ll be able to get a proper arthritis diagnosis.
Not only will a diagnosis better prepare you, but you’ll also get to work with your doctor to find a treatment plan that helps keep your everyday pain under control.
Here are some of the most common types of arthritis that are most likely to be diagnosed.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It’s the most diagnosed and it affects the most people every year. When the cartilage that cushions your bones wears down, that may be osteoarthritis.
If you have osteoarthritis, you most likely experience the most pain in your hands, knees, hips, and spine. However, it can affect other areas as well.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is actually an autoimmune disorder that causes joint problems. Rheumatoid arthritis is easy to identify as it is often symmetrical, affecting the joints on both sides of the body equally.
RA treatment is most effective if it can be caught early, as the progression of the disease can be slowed down. However, when it isn’t treated in time, the damage it does to your body is irreversible.
This type of arthritis exclusively affects those who have psoriasis. Psoriasis is a skin condition that causes red patches of skin. Most people initially develop psoriasis, then diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis.
Psoriatic arthritis causes joint pain, stiffness, and swelling in any area of the body, although symptoms most commonly present themselves in the fingertips and spine. If psoriatic arthritis is left untreated, it can cause major issues in the long run.
Gout is a more complex type of arthritis as the attacks that people experience with gout are more sudden and often more painful. While someone with RA or OA would experience longer, more dull aches, someone with gout would experience a more sudden, sharp pain from their arthritis.
Gout is most common in the big toe, and attacks can occur seemingly out of nowhere. Many patients experience attacks in the middle of the night, reporting that their toes feel like they’re on fire.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when the immune system gets confused and attacks your own body instead of foreign intruders. This occurs because your body can no longer differentiate between the two.
Lupus is also known for being hard to diagnose because its symptoms often line up with similar diseases. However, it can be easily diagnosed when people have a large red, butterfly-like rash across their cheeks.
How to Relieve Pain and Treat Arthritis
Now that we’ve established what arthritis is, let’s talk about treatment and management. Of course, while arthritis can’t be completely cured, there are ways to help manage the symptoms.
However, you will need to have a pain management plan in place. Sometimes the pain is so bad you can’t do anything. With a treatment plan in place, you’ll be well-equipped with how to handle the bad days.
It may not be what you want to hear, but exercise is great for helping with all different kinds of arthritis. Scheduling regular workouts can help to strengthen your muscles, further stabilizing your joints and helping to reduce the pain and stiffness that you experience during a flare-up.
Exercise can also help you maintain your range of motion or even help to improve it over time. In addition to exercise, managing your weight will also be helpful, as having less weight will reduce the pressure on your joints.
Hot and Cold Therapy
One of the best tried and true methods for relieving joint pain is hot and cold therapy.
Hot treatments allow you to reduce the discomfort you’re feeling by allowing your muscles and joints to relax. Heat treatments are also great if your body is feeling tight or like there’s a lot of pressure.
Cold treatments are just as effective as they help to reduce swelling and inflammation. You can wrap an ice pack around your arm or leg where you’re experiencing the most pain in order to get the best benefits.
You may prefer one over the other for your pain, but you’ll find the most success when you alternate back and forth between the two.
Use one for 20 to 30 minutes, wait an hour, and then switch to the other method for the same amount of time. Repeat two to three times a day.
Over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs are great for pain management but they may not be enough for some people. If you’ve spoken with a doctor you may have received a prescription for a stronger pain management medication.
Some people prefer not to be on heavy pain medications, so whether or not you’ll want to take prescription pain medications is up to you and your doctor.
There are also many great supplements out there for arthritis and joint pain, such as MSM, which is said to help reduce joint pain associated with arthritis.
In some rare cases, you may want to think about surgical options, such as joint replacement. These surgeries are serious and can have lasting effects and complications, so it’s important to think them over before deciding.
Can Arthritis Be Cured?
Unfortunately, no. Arthritis cannot be cured. Arthritis is an irreversible condition that becomes worse with time if nothing is done to treat it. There are many treatment options that can reduce the progress of the disease and manage pain.
At Hempvana, pain management is our number one priority. With pain creams, joint health supplements, and many other tools, we hope to help you reduce your daily pain.