May is Arthritis Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to talk about symptoms and treatments. While arthritis can strike anyone at any age, it’s most common in those over age 65. Women are more likely to suffer from symptoms than men, and being overweight puts you at greater risk. Symptoms might appear gradually, or you might suddenly wake up one day in pain.
Most people don’t know that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, which have different causes and are treated in different ways. So, if your symptoms don’t match up to the more common types, don’t assume that you can’t have arthritis. You should still visit a physician and be tested for the less common forms of the disorder.
Symptoms of arthritis. The more common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Some of the more noticeable symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Stiffness in joints
- Swelling of joints
- Redness of skin around affected joints
- Symptoms are often more bothersome in the morning
Rheumatoid arthritis, in particular, comes along with some other detrimental health effects. If you have this form of arthritis, you might notice:
- Lack of appetite
- Anemia (your red blood cell count becomes depleted)
- Slight fever
- Over time, deformity of joints if the condition is untreated
If you experience flares of psoriasis along with your joint pain, report this symptom to your doctor. You might have another relatively common form of the condition, called psoriatic arthritis.
What causes arthritis? That depends upon the type of arthritis. With osteoarthritis,, normal wear and tear of the cartilage around joints will trigger the condition. Osteoarthritis is common in former athletes or those who have suffered injuries, although it can strike anyone who experiences significant damage to their joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and some other forms of the condition are actually autoimmune disorders. For reasons we don’t yet fully understand, sometimes the immune system is activated and begins attacking various parts of the body. When the attack focuses on the soft parts of your joints, you can develop autoimmune forms of arthritis.
Treatment. Treatments for arthritis can include medications to address pain, reduce inflammation, or calm your immune system. In some cases joint replacement surgery is recommended. Often these treatments will ease your symptoms and prevent long-term damage or deformity in your joints (particularly in rheumatoid arthritis). If you believe you might have arthritis, early detection and treatment is key, so make an appointment with your doctor right away.