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Understanding Arthritis

Although it’s the leading cause of disability in the U.S., arthritis is often misunderstood.

More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in America have one of the 100 types of arthritis. Arthritis is most common in women and in older adults of both sexes. Osteoarthritis is the most common type, affecting 31 million people.

Arthritis Symptoms

Most forms of arthritis involve inflammation and joint stiffness. How do you know if you have arthritis? There are four signs that often point to the condition.

  1. Pain: The discomfort may be intermittent or constant and while you’re moving or at rest. The pain may be present throughout your body or be contained to one part of the body.
  2. Stiffness: This will often flare up when you wake in the morning or after long periods of relative inactivity. Stiffness lasting more than an hour in the morning could very well be arthritis.
  3. Swelling: Some forms of arthritis cause the skin over affected areas to become red, swollen and warm. See a doctor if the swelling lasts for at least three days or occurs more than three times a month.
  4. Difficulty moving: Listen to your body. If it’s very painful to even get out of a chair, see your doctor.

Arthritis Treatment

There are many courses of treatment for arthritis.

  1. Medication: Pain-relieving analgesics such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), tramadol (Ultram) and narcotics (Percocet, OxyContin) do not reduce inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium reduce both pain and inflammation.
  2. Therapy: Physical therapy exercises can improve your range of motion and build strength in the muscles that surround painful joints.
  3. Surgery: When other measures don’t work, your doctor may suggest surgery to repair, replace or fuse the affected joints.
    If you suspect you have arthritis, contact our orthopedic services departmenthttp://www.seormc.org/specialties-services/orthopedics.html.
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