Arthritis is often related with the elderly, but both men and women can start to witness arthritis symptoms right from their 40s, and thousands of even younger people are diagnosed every year too. Though there are around 200 types of diseases that cause painful inflammation and stiffness in the joints, but osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms.
What is Arthritis?
Basically, arthritis is a joint disorder featuring inflammation. It is one of the most common causes of joint pain. Osteoarthritis, also known as ‘wear and tear arthritis’ is caused when the cartilage lining of joints fail to repair, thus pushing tendons and ligaments to work harder and stimulating swelling and rubbing on the bone. On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system of body inflames particular joints. It affects three times as many women as men and there are almost 20,000 new cases every year.
What Causes Arthritis?
The cause of arthritis depends on the form of arthritis. However, the causes of arthritis include:
- Injury- leading to degenerative arthritis
- Abnormal Metabolism- like gout and pseudo gout
- Inheritance such as in Osteoarthritis
- Overactive immune system such as rheumatoid arthritis
More than 21 million Americans have osteoarthritis and approximately 2.1 million Americans suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
Signs You Have Arthritis
While it is more likely in those who are overweight, eat a poor diet, smoke, have injured a joint or have a genetic disease, arthritis can affect anyone. But keep an eye out for these three main symptoms:
• Stiffness in the Morning
Feeling stiff when you wake up in the morning is a common problem associated with arthritis. Morning stiffness causes you to hurt all over as you leave your bed. Just when you take your first steps, your muscles and joints begin to ache so much that you would want to crawl back into bed. Morning stiffness can be the most severe pain and it can intervene with your ability to perform your routine tasks and activities of daily living.
The reason behind morning stiffness is referred to as the gel phenomenon, which means that stiffness develops after long periods of sitting or inactivity. Some of the researchers noticed that morning stiffness is a circadian symptom, while some suspect that there might be in sufficient cortisol released in the body during the night.
• Pain when Weight Bearing
Did you know that our joints carry the weight of our bodies? Yes, they do. More the weight you have to carry, the harder it will be for your joints to work efficiently. Even a small change in weight can significantly impact the joint pain experienced by an individual. Chance of developing arthritis is strongly associated with your body weight. People having a high body mass index (BMI) tend to fall prey to arthritis at a very younger age.
Therefore, a small weight change can make a big difference because joint forces in the hips and knees increase about three times that of the weight with normal walking. This states that 15 pounds of extra weight are felt by the knees as an extra 45 pounds. Getting down to a normal body weight is a good idea for people who are overweight, but starting with a set of goals like losing 10-20 pounds can help with joint pain.
• Restricted Range of Motion
You might notice that you cannot move your particular joints as well. For instance, if you have arthritis in your hands, you might struggle to bend them to form a fist. The National Health Service states that this stiffness can be specifically apparent when you wake up in the morning, or after other periods of inactivity, and then will disappear within 30 minutes with osteoarthritis, but it might take longer to wear off in case of rheumatoid arthritis. This can make it quite difficult for you to enjoy your day-to-day activities that used to come pretty easily.
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The Arthritis Foundation also states that the disease interferes with your body’s production capacity of red blood cells (responsible for carrying oxygen in the body), which in turn can cause fatigue-inducing anemia. Hence, if you go from having lots of energy to always feeling lethargic, arthritis could be responsible for the same. If you’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, be sure to consult with your local Doctor of Physical Therapy. They’ll be able to provide natural relief, sometimes without medication. Exercise, hands-on techniques, and education can do a lot of wonders in early stages of Arthritis.
About Author: Dr. Scott Gray
Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others, addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full body approach. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to www.backinmotionsspt.com.