Arthritis: the Nation’s Most Common Disability

Arthritis is mose common disabilityAccording to the CDC, an estimated 52.5 million adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with arthritis. That’s about 1 in every 5 adults! Arthritis happens to be the most common cause of disability in the U.S. with 22.7 million of those diagnosed with it reporting some type of limitation due to arthritis. I can’t believe the numbers when it comes to how many people are suffering from arthritis in the U.S., but there may be ways to manage it.

Types of Arthritis

There are multiple types of arthritis; it is not a single disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and each can affect a person differently. On a basic level arthritis can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Degenerative Arthritis: This is osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the cartilage wears away and bones rub against each other causing pain, swelling and stiffness.
  • Inflammatory Arthritis: The types of arthritis in this category affect the immune system. Examples are rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. In instances of these types, the body’s defense system attacks your tissues instead of things like germs and viruses. This can cause pain, stiffness and joint damage.
  • Infectious Arthritis: This type occurs when a bacterium, virus, or fungus enters your system and triggers inflammation in the joints. Examples of organisms that can infect joints are salmonella, chlamydia, and hepatitis C. Antibiotics may clear up this infection.
  • Metabolic Arthritis: If you have a high buildup of uric acid in your body it can form needle-like crystals in the joints, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or gout.

Examples of specific forms of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis: It is sometimes referred to as degenerative joint disease and often occurs in the knees, hips, lower back, neck, fingers, and big toe. With osteoarthritis the cartilage in the joints beaks down, causing pain, swelling and problems moving the affected joint(s). As it worsens the bones may break down and develop growths referred to as spurs.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: It is an autoimmune disease which attacks the joints causing inflammation. If the inflammation is not checked, it can damage cartilage and also the bones. Over time the cartilage is lost and joints can become loose, unstable, painful and lose mobility. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints in the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles.
  • Lupus: Lupus is an autoimmune disease as well. Lupus affects multiple parts of the body, not just the joints.
  • Gout: Gout is another form of inflammatory arthritis that develops in some individuals who have high levels of uric acid in the blood. There are several stages of gout which you can check out on arthritis.org.

Symptoms of Arthritis

The two most common symptoms of arthritis are inflammation and stiffness. However, since arthritis can be so varied in diagnosis, there are of course various symptoms. For more information, check out this site.

How to Manage It

So what can you do if you have arthritis? Some of it is self-management. Here are six important habits you can use to manage your disease according to arthritis.org:

  1. Be organized
  2. Manage pain and fatigue
  3. Stay active
  4. Balance activity with rest
  5. Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  6. Improve sleep

A diagnosis of arthritis may be a life changing event, but hopefully you will be able to find some ways to manage it as exampled above.

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