Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more of the joints and has more than 100 different types. Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may range from mild to severe, come and go and constantly change over time – though they typically worsen with age. Arthritis can be degenerative, inflammatory, infectious or metabolic, which may determine a person’s specific symptoms and treatment plans. Arthritis is the number one cause of disability in the US because it can severely limit functioning and quality of life. It affects over 50 million Americans.
Nutrition and exercise may be helpful in preventing some types of arthritis and reducing symptoms, so it is very important for people with arthritis to make time for physical activity and maintain a healthy weight. Other treatment options include medication, joint surgery and alternative therapies like taking vitamins and supplements.
Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, the inability to do daily activities and permanent joint damage. Dealing with the constant pain of arthritis can also be fatiguing, both physically and mentally. Many people with arthritis learn to modify their activities to protect their joints and reduce strain. Although arthritis tends to be associated with older people, it can affect people of any age or gender.
There are several organizations dedicated to providing resources, tips and support to people with arthritis. Research is ongoing to discover new preventative measures and new treatment options in order to help improve quality of life for people with arthritis.