The Arthritis Foundation reports that arthritis is one of the leading reasons for disability in American adults. Approximately 54 million American adults have been diagnosed with arthritis and around 300,000 children suffer from arthritis. There are over 100 different types of arthritis, including degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, metabolic arthritis and infectious arthritis. Each of these types of arthritis has similar signs and symptoms. Let's take a look at the eight common signs of arthritis and what you can do to relieve your symptoms.
• Joint stiffness – Arthritis sufferers often experience joint stiffness. This stiffness occurs when the lining of your joints becomes inflamed. Stiffness typically occurs after period of inactivity. After waking, arthritis sufferers often experience joint stiffness from 30 minutes to an hour. Doing range of motion exercises, applying heat to stiff joints and taking a glucosamine supplement helps to decrease the stiffness associated with arthritis.
• Joint pain – Arthritis often causes the lining of the joints to thicken and excess fluid to build up in the joints, resulting in joint pain. Many people assume that joint pain is a natural part of aging; however, this is not true! Pain can interfere with your day to day lives. Luckily, there are many things that you can do to relieve your joint pain, including regular exercise, supplementation, medications and joint replacement therapy.
• Joint swelling – Excess weight can increase your risk of developing arthritis because it places additional weight on your joints and is linked to systemic inflammation. For example, when you are walking, the force exerted on your knees is approximately one and a half time your body weight. This means if you weigh 200 pounds, the force of pressure on your knees is 300 pounds. This increases to two to three times your body weight on inclines. To help relieve your joint swelling, get active, eat a healthy diet and try to get to a healthy body weight.
• Fever – Along with joint pain, joint swelling and stiffness, many arthritis sufferers often experience fever. A low-grade fever occurs when the joints in the body become inflamed. When inflammation occurs, the immune system goes into overdrive and releases cytokines. These cytokines cause the body's core temperature to rise, resulting in a low-grade fever. You can counteract the effects of a fever by applying a cool compress to your forehead, ensuring that you are properly hydrated and take an anti-inflammatory medication.
• Numbness and tingling – When inflammation occurs in the body, it can cause pressure on the nerves, resulting in numbness, burning or tingling. Another name for these symptoms is neuropathy. When the nerves become compressed due to inflammation, they cannot properly send information to the spinal cord and brain. When these signals become distorted, a number of symptoms can occur, including numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, burning, prickling and sensitivity to the touch.
• Decreased range of motion – Joint inflammation can cause the ligaments and tendons in the body to become deformed or unstable. When the tendons and ligaments become unstable or deformed, you may be unable to straighten or bend your joints normally. Gentle exercise along with weight loss can help to improve your range of motion.
• Fatigue – One of the common symptoms of arthritis is fatigue. Fatigue in arthritis is typically caused by poor sleep, medications and the body's reaction to the inflammation associated with arthritis. When you have low energy levels, you may experience mood swings and depression, your relationships and career may suffer, you may have low libido and your creativity and joy may wane.
• Depression – When you suffer from arthritis, the pain, decreased range of motion, inflammation and neuropathy can prevent you from doing the things that you once did. This can cause depression to set in, especially if you were active before you begin suffering from arthritis. You can counteract the effects of arthritis on your mood by staying as active as possible, spending time with family and friends and learning a new hobby.
Arthritis occurs when your joints become inflamed, causing stiffness, fatigue, decreased range of motion, swelling and pain. The cartilage, as well as the lining of your joints, begins to wear and break down, resulting in the destruction of your joints. Luckily, gentle exercises, weight loss and supplementation using glucosamine can help relieve the many symptoms of arthritis.