Arthritis: Types, Prevention, and Treatments
Arthritis is defined as inflammation of a joint. It can occur in multiple joints throughout the body, but most commonly afflicts the hip and knee joints. Symptoms can include pain, stiffness, swelling, or immobility of the joint. While there is no cure to arthritis, there are several ways to prevent arthritis and manage its pain.
The general nature of arthritis results in many different types. Osteoarthritis refers to “arthritis of the bone” and is the most common form of arthritis. Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, affects the entire body. The body’s immune system attacks its own tissue, including the joints, resulting in painful swelling.
Some factors of an individual’s life, such as genetic predisposition, age and even sex, can affect how and what type of arthritis develops in their joints. However, there are steps one can take to help prevent arthritis or lessen its effects.
- Maintain a healthy body weight
Controlling your weight is easier said than done, but the benefits are innumerable. As far as arthritis is concerned, the reduced pressure on your knees and hips can lessen damage done to the joints. According to Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, even just 10 additional pounds can increase the force on the knees by 30-60 pounds.
- Keep it moving
As the saying goes, use it or lose it. This much is true for joint strength as well. Not only does exercise help shed excess weight, but it can strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints and improve range of motion. Swimming or water aerobics can be an excellent introduction to exercise while avoiding injury to your joints.
- Eat more salmon
Fish like salmon and sardines are rich in omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout the entire body and are particularly effective against pain from rheumatoid arthritis. Omega-3 supplements are also an option for those without access to fish.
Treatments for arthritis vary greatly depending on type and severity. Based on the results of your diagnostic testing, your physician will determine the best course of action.
Medications such as painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are common options for medical management. Acetaminophen can be purchased over-the-counter to help control pain, but does not have any anti-inflammatory properties. Painkillers that require a prescription, such as opioids, may be used but may cause mental or physical dependency. NSAIDs, such as naproxen and ibuprofen, reduce both pain and inflammation.
Physical therapy to encourage joint mobility is frequently prescribed in conjunction with medications. Walking canes are also useful to aid in mobility.
Typically suggested only after conservative measures are exhausted, surgery can be a modern solution to your joint pain problems. In lieu of a damaged joint, an artificial joint made from metal and plastic components is implanted in the hip or knee. After the recovery period, patients are able to perform activities that may have previously caused pain or were impossible to do.
If you or a loved one is suffering from arthritis pain or find their days and activities limited, he or she may be a candidate for hip or knee replacement surgery. For more detailed information on the procedures, visit our procedures page.