Arthritis literally means joint inflammation and can affect anyone at any age. It’s a complex disorder that comprises more than 100 distinct conditions, two of the most common, Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis, make your joints feel painful, stiff, and swollen. The symptoms of arthritis and other rheumatic diseases may resemble other medical conditions so it is important to see your physician for a diagnosis. “The average person may not be able tell if it’s the joint, a torn tendon, or pain in the area of the joint,” says Shannon Whetstone Mescher, vice president of programs and services at the Arthritis Foundation. “A physician needs to evaluate you to make sure you do in fact have joint pain and why.”

Over the course of his practice and extensive research, Dr. Foglar has seen a wide variety of arthritic conditions and in each case has found the best solution for his patients. In less severe cases, proper joint protection, good nutrition and pain relievers may be sufficient treatment. However, because it is a degenerative disease, it may be necessary to repair or replace joints. In the past, such procedures would have involved long hospital stays and a painful recuperation, but with the advances in arthroscopic surgery, examination and repair can be accomplished with a few small incisions. When joint replacement is the only solution, here too the options are far less traumatic and in most cases can restore not only mobility but eliminate the debilitating pain.

It cannot be over stressed that the best way to manage arthritis is to see your doctor. Patients often think that little can be done, or in some cases are not even aware that it is an arthritis condition, and attribute the pain to something else, then patiently wait for the body to heal itself. Both assumptions are wrong and can cause more harm, not to mention pain. The following are some facts about the difference between rheumatoid and osteoarthritis as well as tips for living with arthritis.

Osteoarthritis:

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that results from simple wear and tear or injury. Joints such as the shoulder; knee, hip or the hand are encapsulated and contain synovial fluid allowing free and smooth movement. They also have a protective coating of cartilage, but when the cartilage erodes and bones come into direct contact with each other it causes severe pain. Age and factors such as heredity, overuse and obesity can contribute to the eventual degeneration of the joint.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

Rheumatoid Arthritis is not a wear and tear disease but an autoimmune disease, an illnesses which occurs when the body tissues are mistakenly attacked by its own immune system. The cause of most types of rheumatic diseases remains unknown but some or all of the following may play a role: genetics and family history, lifestyle choices (i.e., being overweight), trauma, infection neurogenic disturbances, metabolic disturbances, excessive wear and tear and stress on a joint(s), environmental triggers, the influence of certain hormones on the body. The inflammation of rheumatoid disease can also occur in tissues around the joints, such as the tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Unlike osteoarthritis, RA is a symmetrical disease – both hands, both elbows, etc.

Tips

Protecting your joints is one of the most effective ways to avoid or relieve arthritis pain and prevent further joint damage. Try these joint protection techniques to prevent arthritis pain.

At Least Once A Day Move Each Joint Through Its Full Pain-Free Range Of Motion.

The amount you’re able to move each joint without pain may vary from day to day but don’t overdo it. Keep movements slow and gentle — sudden jerking or bouncing can hurt your joints.

Learn The Difference Between The General Discomfort And The Pain From Overusing A Joint.

Arthritis pain that lasts more than an hour after an activity may indicate that the activity was too stressful. Think of ways that you can modify the action. Remember that you’re more likely to damage your joints when they’re painful and swollen.

Be Careful How You Use Your Hands.

Stressful positions and techniques may increase the risk of developing deformities. You can perform most tasks in easier ways that put less deforming forces on your joints. For example, don’t hold a book by pinching it between the thumb and fingers – use a book holder – don’t make a tight fist, find a tool that has built up handles so the grip is not so tight.

Avoid Keeping Your Joints In The Same Position For A Prolonged Period Of Time.

Don’t give your joints the chance to become stiff — keep them moving. When writing or doing handwork, release your grip every 10 to 15 minutes. On long car trips, get out of the car, stretch and move around at least every hour. While watching television get up and move around every half-hour.