Arthritis is a term used to describe a group of conditions that cause inflammation in the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, but common symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness in the joints, particularly after periods of inactivity or first thing in the morning
- Swelling and tenderness in the joints
- Limited range of motion in the affected joints
- Weakness and fatigue
- Decreased ability to perform everyday activities
The causes of arthritis vary depending on the type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, is often caused by wear and tear on the joints due to aging or overuse. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the joints, leading to inflammation. Other types of arthritis can be caused by infections, underlying medical conditions, or inherited genetic factors.
Treatment for arthritis focuses on relieving pain, improving joint function, and preventing further joint damage. Treatment options may include:
- Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic agents
- Physical therapy to help improve range of motion and strengthen muscles
- Occupational therapy to help with everyday activities
- Exercise and weight management to help reduce stress on the joints
- Heat and cold therapy to help reduce pain and swelling
- Lifestyle changes, such as using assistive devices or avoiding activities that exacerbate joint pain
- Surgery, such as joint replacement, to repair or replace damaged joints
It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to develop a treatment plan that is right for you. Treatment for arthritis may involve a combination of medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes. While there is no cure for arthritis, the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.