Effects of Arthritis

Arthritis is a disease of the joints that, in one form or another, affects many millions of Americans. Its symptoms can range from mildly annoying to completely disabling, depending on the severity of the disease. Arthritis affects many aspects of the lives of its sufferers, including their ability to participate in sports, take part in hobbies, and perform tasks essential to daily living, such as getting in and out of the car, climbing stairs, even typing and opening jars. Although there are many different types of arthritis—osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are among the most common—each form of the disease can cause pain, swelling, and limited mobility in the affected joints. Although arthritis affects people of all ages, it is especially common in older adults. Osteoarthritis is among the most prevalent types of arthritis, and results from wear on the joints over time. Because of this correlation between arthritis and aging—and because many people become familiar with the condition after watching older relatives and loved ones struggle with arthritis symptoms—it’s a common assumption that arthritis is simply an inevitable part of aging. While it’s true that there is at present no cure for arthritis, painful symptoms shouldn’t be ignored just because they’re “normal.” If you are suffering from arthritis, it’s important to talk to your doctor to find solutions for alleviating symptoms and improving your quality of life. Talking to your doctor can help you to come up with a plan for managing symptoms that takes into account your unique needs. Based on your family history, lifestyle, and individual symptoms, your doctor can recommend a range of treatments. These may include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and exercise, therapeutic aids like splints, special shoes, and braces, or simply the application of hot and cold packs to the affected areas. If these measures are inadequate, your doctor may prescribe medications, physical therapy, or, as a last resort, surgery to replace damaged joints.

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