In honor of Arthritis Awareness Month, we wanted to share some interesting facts, resources, and lifestyle tips to help you learn more about this condition, and what you can do to find relief for yourself or a loved one.

Facts about Arthritis

Arthritis affects more than 50 million Americans. Although it’s very common to develop arthritis as you age, the truth is you can develop arthritis as a child, too. 

Here are a few other facts about this chronic condition that might surprise you.

  • Arthritis is often used as an umbrella term to describe any condition that causes joint pain or joint disease.
  • There are over 100 different types of arthritis.
  • The term arthritis actually means “joint inflammation.”
  • Arthritis affects seniors and young adults. In fact, children can develop what’s known as “juvenile arthritis,” which may worsen as they approach adulthood.
  • Arthritis is one of the leading causes of disability from work in older adults.
  • At this time, there is no known cure for arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

You may be familiar with the terms “Osteoarthritis” and “Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of this condition that affects both men and women, as they age.

“Osteoarthritis occurs when cartilage, the tissue that cushions the ends of the bones within the joints, breaks down and wears away. In some cases, all of the cartilage may wear away, leaving bones that rub up against each other.”

National Institute on Aging

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease, as it causes your immune system to attack the lining of your joints.

It might surprise you to learn that even gout—a condition that causes crystals to build up in the joints—is another type of arthritis. In fact, certain infections in the body that cause joint inflammation also fit under the umbrella of arthritis. This is known as reactive arthritis

Even a skin condition like psoriasis, for example, can cause individuals to experience symptoms of arthritis. 

How does arthritis affect the body?

Though everyone will experience this condition differently, due to the many types of arthritis that exist, the most common symptoms include:

  • Swelling of joints
  • Pain or tenderness in joints
  • Stiffness
  • Limited range of motion

As we noted before, arthritis stands for joint inflammation. Therefore, it’s not surprising that joint discomfort or stiffness would be a common symptom. But arthritis can affect other areas of the body, too. Rheumatoid Arthritis, for example,  can affect your joints and vital organs, including your eyes and your heart. As a result, you may develop other serious health issues as your arthritis worsens. This may include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke.

Managing your condition

Although there is no known cure for arthritis, there are ways to help you reduce swelling and find symptom relief, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.

Your doctor may prescribe you certain anti-inflammatory medications to help you reduce swelling or slow the progression of this condition. 

Your clinician may also recommend that you avoid certain habits that can cause your symptoms to worsen.

“Some changes, such as quitting smoking, eliminate factors that make arthritis worse. Reaching a moderate weight can decrease stress on the joints, while eating a healthy and balanced diet may ease inflammation.”

Medical News Today

Below we’ve compiled a few helpful resources to aid you along your wellness journey:

  • 5 foods to avoid for arthritis: The foods we consume play a major role in the health and wellness of our bodies and how they function. This article helps breakdown which foods may cause inflammation and which foods may help reduce inflammation.
  • Exercise helps ease arthritis pain and stiffness: Looking for tips on how to stay active and improve range of motion? This article lists the top 3 best exercises to help you manage your chronic symptoms and improve your range of motion, as you age. 
  • Arthritis Risk Factors: In addition to eating the right types of food and getting moderate exercise, there are certain types of activities you’ll want to avoid that could exacerbate your condition. This article lists a few risk factors associated with moderate to severe arthritis.

For more resources, or to find community groups in your area, check out the Arthritis Foundations’ website. While there, you can connect with others, discover more interesting facts and research, and share your own story to encourage others!

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