More than 58 million people in the United States have arthritis, and for about 24 million of them, the condition limits their ability to participate in everyday activities. More than one in four of them report severe joint pain.
All this arthritis leads to another problem: work disability. The annual costs for medical care and lost earnings due to arthritis tops $303.5 billion.
At Physicians Medical Primary Care, one of our main focuses is helping people manage their arthritis. If your mobility is a problem or your joint pain is becoming chronic, we do have treatments available that can help get you back to feeling normal. Here’s more about how we can help.
What is arthritis?
Despite how we normally think about it, arthritis is not just one disease. The word arthritis is an umbrella term that includes a group of diseases that cause swelling and inflammation in your joints. It’s a leading cause of disability, and the number of people it affects is increasing.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage in your joints deteriorates, causing your bones to rub together and resulting in great pain and stiffness. Other forms include rheumatoid arthritis (in which your immune system attacks the lining of your joints), gout, lupus, and fibromyalgia.
Typical symptoms of osteoarthritis include pain, stiffness, tenderness, a loss of flexibility in your joint, and a grating sensation when you use your joint, including popping and cracking sounds. As your condition progresses, symptoms will get worse, and you may also experience a decreased range of motion.
Factors that can increase your risk of getting osteoarthritis include your age, being overweight, if others in your family have had it, previous joint injuries, repeated stress on the joint, and bone deformities.
How can you treat arthritis?
The good news is that you can reduce your symptoms with various treatment options. Your doctor will usually recommend that you start with sustainable lifestyle changes such as losing weight, along with exercising.
Avoid activities that are repetitive and involve high impact, such as running, tennis, and high-intensity aerobics. Start with daily stretching to increase your range of motion, use good posture, and focus on low-impact exercises, such as light aerobics, walking, biking, or water exercises. Not only will staying active reduce your pain, it will increase your mood and overall well-being.
To reduce your pain, over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) may help. Also, be sure to talk with your doctor about taking an over-the-counter drug. For example, taking too much acetaminophen can cause liver failure and death and taking too much ibuprofen can cause kidney dysfunction (failure), stomach ulcers, and upper gastrointestinal bleeds.
Physical therapy is also a good option to strengthen the muscles around your joint, reduce your pain, and increase your flexibility. Cortisone joint injections may also help, and eventually, joint replacement can be an option as well.
If you find yourself suffering more and more from your arthritis, call one of our offices in San Jose, or book your own appointment online, and we’ll take the first steps toward restoring your good health. You have too many good years left to ignore the problem. Call today!