What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and inflammation in a joint and affects about 10 million people in the UK. There are several types of arthritis but the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis affects about 8 million people in the UK and usually develops in the over 50s. However, it can occur at any age as a result of injury or another joint related condition. It initially affects the smooth cartilage of the joint making movement more difficult and leading to pain and stiffness. The cartilage between the joints gradually erodes, causing the bones in the joint to rub together. The joints that are most usually affected are the hands, spine, knees and hips.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects about 400,000 people and often starts between 40 and 50. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men. It occurs when the body’s immune system targets affected joints leading to pain and swelling.
What Are The Symptoms Of Arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis depend on the type you have, so it’s important to get an accurate diagnosis if you have:
- joint pain
- tenderness and stiffness
- inflammation in and around your joints
- restricted movement
- warm, red skin over the affected joint
- weakness and muscle wasting
Treatment Of Arthritis
There is no cure for arthritis but you can take various painkillers, non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids. In severe cases surgical procedures such as joint replacement, joint fusion, etc are available.
However, there are also many ways to help you live with arthritis. The earlier arthritis is diagnosed the better. It is very important to eat healthily so you get all the nutrients you need, and by reducing your weight you will put less strain on your joints.
If your arthritis is painful you may not feel like exercising but being active can help reduce and prevent pain.Regular exercise can also:
- improve your range of movement
- increase your muscle strength
- reduce stiffness
- boost your energy
Swimming is a good exercise to choose as it puts no weight on your joints but helps all of the above. For more advice speak to our pharmacist. You also need to take extra care of your joints to prevent further damage.
You should try to reduce any stress on your joints while doing your everyday tasks like moving or lifting. Some tips on how t do this are:
- Use larger, stronger joints as levers – for example: take the pressure of opening a heavy door by using your shoulder rather than your hand
- Use several joints to spread the weight of an object – for example: use both hands to carry your shopping or distribute the weight evenly by using a shoulder bag or rucksack
- Don’t grip too tightly – grip as loosely as possible or use a padded handle to widen your grip
It’s also important to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time and to take regular breaks so you can move around.
If you have arthritis carrying out tasks around the home can be a challenge. However, making some practical changes to your home, and changing the way you work, should make things easier. Practical tips include:
- keeping things in easy reach
- using a handrail to help you get up and downstairs
- using long handled tools to pick things or clean
- fitting levers to taps to make them easier to turn
- using electrical kitchen, such as tin openers, when preparing food
An occupational therapist can help if you have severe arthritis that is affecting your ability to move around your home and carry out everyday tasks, such as cooking and cleaning. They can also advise you about equipment you may need to help you live independently.
- What are the two most common types of arthritis?
- How many people suffer from osteoarthritis in the UK?
- What does arthritis initially affect?
- What happens?
- What joints are most commonly affected?
- How many people are affected by rheumatoid arthritis?
- What causes it?
- Name two symptoms of osteoarthritis
- Is there a cure?
- What can you do to help?
[expand title=”Quiz Answers”]
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis
- About 8 million
- Arthritis affects the cartilage lining of the joints
- The cartilage gradually erodes and the bones rub together
- Hands, spine, knees and hips
- About 400,000
- The body’s immune system targets affected joints which swell and become painful
- Joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, inflammation around the joints, restricted movement, weakness and muscle wasting
- Eat healthily, gentle exercise, look after your joints