Although we have known of its existence for centuries, and it has hardly been kept quiet, it would be fair to say that there is a lot most of us simply don’t know about arthritis. This is perhaps something of a surprise, as there are more than a 350million people worldwide who suffer from arthritis, and it is understood that approximately one in four US adults has been diagnosed with arthritis. Those numbers are pretty staggering, and they make it all the more curious that you won’t need to look far to find someone who simply doesn’t know even the basics about the condition.
While some of the knowledge out there about arthritis is, in essence, true – it is more common in older people – there is a lot of knowledge besides this that isn’t so widely understood. As you read below, some of the information may be obvious to you – but you’d best believe that it’s not that well-known in general.
“Arthritis” is not a specific diagnosis
Arthritis, wherever and however it happens, is a diagnosis you don’t want to hear. However, the important part of the diagnosis is not arthritis itself, but the specific type. There are over 100 forms of the condition, far too many to list here, but aside from well-known types such as rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, there are many more. Gout, lupus, and ankylosing spondylitis are some examples. So, too, is fibromyalgia, a condition many of us have without ever knowing it’s an arthritic one. When it comes to treating and making adjustments for an arthritis diagnosis, knowing the exact kind is essential.
Arthritis cannot be cured, but management makes a big difference
Once you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, you will always have that diagnosis, but you won’t always have to have the problems the condition brings. Arthritis, in its simplest description, is a condition that causes painful inflammation and joint stiffness. Anti-inflammatory medication and dietary steps can lessen that pain and stiffness. Heat and cold can both minimize stiffness (which one you use depends on the kind of arthritis and the nature of the pain you’re feeling. Also, with the application of some KT tape ankle stiffness and pain in other important joints can be eased considerably. The right treatment can significantly reduce the negative impacts of arthritis.
Some forms of arthritis are autoimmune conditions
The most immediate and obvious symptoms of arthritis are – as noted – the joint pain, decreased mobility, and stiffness that it causes. However, these are far from the only symptoms. In the case of some types of arthritis, the condition can have wider implications as it contains an autoimmune component. This can result in symptoms such as fatigue, fever, and a more general feeling of illness. In common with more general arthritis, autoimmune forms of the condition cannot be cured, but with the right treatment, you can live comfortably for as long as someone without arthritis.
Arthritis raises your risk for secondary conditions
When you are experiencing the symptoms of arthritis, it does become more difficult to exercise – which is unfortunate, because the right kind of exercise can make a big difference in how you cope with the condition. The greater difficulty of exercise can lead to weight gain, and more acutely to conditions like diabetes or kidney stones. As well as using the right mitigations to make exercise more possible, a sensible diet will become all the more important in the wake of an arthritis diagnosis.
Arthritis can strike at any stage of life
While it is more common among older people, particularly those over the age of 65, arthritis is by no means an older person’s condition. Among the many types of the condition, some are surprisingly common in younger people. Actress Neve Campbell was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her early 20s, while Kathleen Turner’s diagnosis came even earlier, in her teens. Former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, meanwhile, developed osteoarthritis which particularly affects his feet; it may not surprise you to learn that that particular form of the condition is more common at extremes of height.
Arthritis is a condition with plenty of drawbacks, but if you develop it you can do a lot to make your experience more comfortable. So if you are experiencing spells of unusual stiffness or pain in your joints or elsewhere in your limbs, make time to see a doctor and get a few things checked out. With the right adjustments, you can experience a much more comfortable life and may even find that you suddenly have a vastly increased range of movement.