Many people start to feel pain and stiffness in their bodies over time. Sometimes their hands or knees or shoulders get sore and are hard to move and may become swollen. These people may have arthritis. Arthritis may be caused by inflammation of the tissue lining the joints. Some signs of inflammation include redness, heat, pain, and swelling. These problems are telling you that something is wrong.
Over time, in some types of arthritis but not in all, the joints involved can become severely damaged.
There are different types of arthritis. In some diseases in which arthritis occurs, other organs, such as your eyes, your chest, or your skin, can also be affected. Some people may worry that arthritis means they won’t be able to work or take care of their children and their family. Others think that you just have to accept things like arthritis.
There are several types of arthritis. The two most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. This condition usually comes with age and most often affects the fingers, knees, and hips. Sometimes osteoarthritis follows an injury to a joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis happens when the body’s own defense system doesn’t work properly. It affects joints and bones (often of the hands and feet), and may also affect internal organs and systems. You may feel sick or tired, and you may have a fever.
Another common type of arthritis, gout, is caused by crystals that build up in the joints. It usually affects the big toe, but many other joints may be affected.
Arthritis is seen with many other conditions. These include:
- lupus, in which the body’s defense system can harm the joints, the heart, the skin, the kidneys, and other organs.
- an infection that gets into a joint and destroys the cushion between the bones.
Arthritis can damage your joints, internal organs, and skin. There are things you can do to keep the damage from getting worse. They might also make you feel better:
- Try to keep your weight down. Too much weight can make your knees and hips hurt.
- Exercise. Moving all of your joints will help you. The doctor or nurse can show you how to move more easily. Going for a walk every day will help, too.
- Take your medicines when and how you are supposed to. They can help reduce pain and stiffness.
- Try taking a warm shower in the morning.
- See your doctor regularly.
- Seek information that can help you.
*Information from National Institutes of Health (NIH)