May is National Arthritis Awareness Month, and it’s a time to bring attention to the increasing prevalence of arthritis, promote physical activity among arthritis sufferers across the U.S. and the importance of advocacy and urgency for more arthritis-related research. Arthritis affects more than 50 million adults across the country, and that number is expected to grow over the next decade. Arthritis can affect the quality of life of individuals, limiting their movement and the activities they can participate in, from walking to lifting. The condition can cause permanent disability and is the primary cause of disability in the U.S.

What is Arthritis?

The Arthritis Foundation characterizes arthritis as an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease, but it’s not a single disease since there are over 100 types of arthritis and related medical conditions. While it can affect people of all different backgrounds, it affects more women than men and emerges more frequently the older people become. Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most common types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects cartilage by causing it to break down, while rheumatoid arthritis is characterized as an autoimmune disorder that initially targets the lining of the joint capsule (synovial membrane), but can also damage the skin, eyes, heart, and lungs. Certain underlying diseases can cause certain types of arthritis.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Different types of arthritis have various symptoms, but common signs and symptoms of arthritis involving the joints may include, pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, deformity, decreased range of motion, lumps, and bumps around the bone and tenderness.

Risk Factors For Arthritis

Each type of arthritis has its own set of risk factors, but the most commonly recognized ones include:
● Family history/Genetics: A family history of gout, where parents or siblings have the disorder, may put you at a higher risk of developing some types of arthritis.
● Age: Old age is a primary risk factor of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
● Sex: It appears that women, more so than men, are likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia, while gout affects more men.
● Previous Joint Damage: Suffering a joint injury in the past will make an individual more likely to develop arthritis later on in life.

Treating Arthritis

The focus of arthritis treatment centers on relieving the symptoms of the condition and boosting joint function. It may require a process of trial and error, or a combination of different treatments to find the best treatment option for individuals needs.

Arthritis comes in different forms and can be debilitating if not appropriately diagnosed and treated. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the condition, hence the need for further research. In the meantime, bringing awareness to the growing issue is essential for optimal health and well-being.