What You Should Know About Arthritis

Arthritis is one of the main causes of disability in the United States. Arthritis sufferers do not belong to any specific demographic as arthritis knows no age, no gender, no race, and no socio-economic status. In America, three hundred thousand children and over fifty million adults have some type of arthritis. However, it is important to note that arthritis is more common among women and occurs more often as people get older. In this sense, it follows the same vein as bone and muscle loss.

Arthritis causes pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion in the joints, and while most arthritis affects the joints, some types can affect other parts of the body. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Degenerative Arthritis

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis, a form of degenerative arthritis that erodes the cartilage in joints, which causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. People susceptible to osteoarthritis are past middle age, are overweight, have a family history of arthritis, or have had a previous injury to a joint.

Some of the ways osteoarthritis can be managed are by maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening the muscles around your joints, doing regular physical activity, using hot and cold therapies, and taking pain relieving medications.  As I’ve mentioned before, regular physical activity is essential for maintaining proper bone and muscle health, in addition to maintaining flexibility.

Inflammatory Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis, a type of inflammatory arthritis, is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the lining of joints that are not already lined by cartilage. The human body’s immune system uses internal inflammation to deal with infection and prevent disease, but when the system goes awry it attacks the joints with inflammation that is out of control. That prolonged inflammation damages not only the joint, but could also damage other body parts. 

Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment is vital when dealing with rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment of this type of inflammatory arthritis focuses on reducing pain, improving joint function, and preventing further damage. Most often, the treatment involves the use of one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. 

Acupuncture and Arthritis

Arthritis treatments are dependent on the type of arthritis, but their goal is to diminish arthritis symptoms, which means a reduction in pain and an improvement in the quality of life. Acupuncture is one of the alternate treatments for arthritis pain and inflammation, as it stimulates the production endorphins, pain-relieving neurotransmitters, and cortisol, an inflammation-fighting hormone. In addition, the herbs used in TCM can also provide relief from pain and inflammation.

Nevertheless, if treatments fail to show any improvements, then surgery may provide another option. In some cases, joint replacement is the only option. No one wants to jump to surgery as an immediate solution, but a combination of both Western and Traditional Chinese Medicine (or other alternative therapies) can provide the most benefit.