WHAT IS ARTHRITIS? – ARTHRITIS IS VERY COMMON BUT IS NOT WELL UNDERSTOOD.
Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually it is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have it, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT ARTHRITIS?
There are many things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life. Learning about the disease and treatment options, making time for physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight are essential. It is a commonly misunderstood disease. The Arthritis Foundation is the only nonprofit organization dedicated to serving all people with arthritis. Its website, arthritis.org, has many resources for learning about arthritis, practical tips for daily living and more.