Commonly Asked Questions: Arthritis

Commonly Asked Questions: Arthritis

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Q: What is Arthritis?

A:  Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is used as a shorthand term for arthritis and other rheumatic conditions that affect joints, the tissues which surround joints and other connective tissue. The pattern, severity, and location of symptoms can vary depending on the specific form of the disease. Typically, rheumatic conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints.

Q: What causes arthritis?

A: Elevated uric acid levels cause gout, and specific infections can cause certain forms of arthritis. The causes of many of the other forms of arthritis are unknown. There are studies on the roles of other factors such as genetics, lifestyle, and environment in the various types of arthritis.

Q: What are the most common types of arthritis?

A: The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis followed by gout, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Q: What are the symptoms of arthritis?

A: The pattern and location of symptoms can vary depending on the type of arthritis. Generally, people with arthritis feel pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. The onset of arthritis symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Arthritis is most often a chronic disease, so symptoms may come and go, or persist over time.

Q: What should I do if I think I have arthritis?

A: If you have pain, stiffness, or swelling in or around one or more of your joints, talk to your doctor. It is important to keep in mind that there are many forms of arthritis, the specific diagnosis of the type of arthritis you have is necessary to direct the proper treatment. The earlier you understand your arthritis, the earlier you can start managing your disease and making healthy lifestyle changes to help your arthritis.

Q: Can I prevent arthritis?

A: Depending on the form of arthritis, there are steps that can be taken to reduce your risk of arthritis. Maintaining an appropriate body weight has been shown to decrease the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Protecting your joints from injuries or overuse can reduce the risk of osteoarthritis.

Q: How can I manage arthritis pain?

A: Both medical treatment and self-management strategies are very important.

  • Be Active - Physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability.
  • Watch Your Weight - The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression.
  • See Your Doctor - Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management are important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. Your doctor can also recommend the proper medications to help manage arthritis pain and determine if other options are necessary such as joint replacement.