You do not have to search far to find someone suffering from arthritis. Yet, while the disease is becoming commonplace in our society, many individuals remain uncertain about what exactly arthritis is, who is at risk, and how it can be treated. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
1. What is arthritis?
The place where one bone meets another bone is known as a joint. When this area becomes inflamed (ie. redness, swelling, heat, and pain), arthritis commonly results. Stiffness of the joints is another common symptom. However, "arthritis" is more of a general term, since to date over 100 different types of arthritis are classified. The type of arthritis most likely to be seen, especially in the elderly, is osteoarthritis, where the joints degenerate as the cartilage (which normally cushions the joints) whittles away. Since joints are located all throughout the body, osteoarthritis can therefore develop in many different locations ranging from the fingers and hip to the knees and feet.
2. Am I at risk?
While arthritis can occur in all individuals, several groups are at higher risk. These include women, individuals who are overweight, and those with jobs which place continued stress on the body's joints.
3. Can it be treated?
Yes! Although there is no cure, many individuals find great relief through use of physical therapy, exercise, weight loss, heat and cold application, orthopedic braces, and medications (acetaminophen/ibuprofen).
To learn more about arthritis, visit the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)