Alternative Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis & Osteoarthritis: What Works, What Doesn't

7 Things You Don't Know About Arthritis

More than 50 million adults in the US are living with arthritis, which amounts to about one in five people who are old enough to vote. Despite its prevalence, misconceptions and myths about the condition are rampant. The trouble is, what you don't know can (literally) hurt you, especially if you delay seeing a doctor or don't take steps to protect yourself. What follows are seven things you don't know about arthritis but should. (Sign up to get healthy living tips, weight loss inspiration, slimming recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox!)

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"Arthritis" includes more than 100 types of joint problems. 
It's really an umbrella term for many different conditions. "There are two big categories—degenerative arthritis, which is essentially wear and tear on the joints, and inflammatory arthritis, which involves inflammation around the joint that causes damage," explains rheumatologist Eric Ruderman, MD, a professor of medicine at the Northwestern University School of Medicine in Chicago. He explains that although there are different risk factors for each type, both genetics and your environment usually play a role. 

It doesn't only happen to old people.

arthritis all ages

Two-thirds of Americans with arthritis are under the age of 65. That includes nearly 300,000 kids under 16 who suffer from juvenile arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. And inflammatory arthritis typically crops up in the 30s, 40s, or 50s, says Ruderman. "If you have pain, swelling, or stiffness in a joint that lasts for weeks, don't think it can't be arthritis just because you're 37," he says. See a doctor! 

MORE:The 10 Most Painful Conditions

Arthritis can affect you from head to toe. 
It's not just your knees and hips that are at risk; you can develop arthritis in any joint. Osteoarthritis (OA)—which involves breakdown of the cartilage in a joint, usually from cumulative wear and tear—commonly affects the neck, lower back, knees, hips, and hands. By contrast, rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and swelling—is more likely to strike the small joints in the wrists, hands, neck, and spine. Meanwhile, gout (another form of inflammatory arthritis) commonly starts with pain and swelling in the big toe but can progress to the ankles or knees. 

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Carrying excess body weight is a major risk factor.
"Obesity places greater stress on joints, which can lead to damage and osteoarthritis," says rheumatologist Stacy Ardoin, MD, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Plus, excess body fat can cause inflammatory changes throughout the body. Complicating matters, "people who are heavier don't tend to respond as well to medicine," adds Ruderman. Losing weight can improve your condition and your response to treatment. (Here are the best exercises for weight loss.)

Certain injuries can increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis. 
Whether it's a sports injury, a fall, or another accident, getting injured can disrupt the mechanics or integrity of a particular joint, which can increase the risk for degenerative arthritis over time. "Any significant trauma can lead to chronic inflammation in that area" and cause cartilage to start breaking down, explains Mark Karadsheh, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI. Case in point: People who experience a complex or severe meniscus tear in the knee have a three- to fivefold higher risk of later developing osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a 2014 study from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

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MORE: 6 Simple Moves To Ease Sciatica

Smoking is a significant risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis.

smoking rheumatoid arthritis

Scientists don't know exactly why, but toxins in cigarette smoke may somehow alter immune function in ways that raise your risk. (Here are 9 foods that help boost your immunity.) And if you already have RA, continuing to smoke is likely to worsen your prognosis, according to a 2014 study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. The upshot is that it's not too late: Quitting can reduce your risk of developing RA or make it easier to control, says Ardoin. 

There's a link between rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. 
Twenty to 30 years ago, "people with rheumatoid arthritis lived an average of 10 years less [than their peers], and it was largely because they developed cardiovascular disease," Ruderman says. Because RA is an inflammatory condition, it also makes you prone to inflammation in your arteries and atherosclerosis (a buildup of plaque). Fortunately, RA treatments have improved in recent years, so with aggressive treatment patients should now be able to dodge heart disease and have a normal lifespan, says Ruderman. In fact, a 2019 study from the Mayo Clinic found that people who have RA that's in remission aren't any more likely than others to develop cardiovascular disease. Consider that to be added incentive to get your joint pain evaluated and treated promptly.

Video: 5 Warning Signs of Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Date: 09.12.2018, 23:18 / Views: 95294