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Understanding Arthritis

Hands effected by arthritis

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What is arthritis?

  • Arthritis is a disease that causes pain and stiffness in your body.
  • There are many kinds of arthritis that affect your body in different ways.
  • Arthritis is a chronic disease, which means it can affect your body for a long time.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.

  • Osteoarthritis causes pain and stiffness in your joints.
  • Joints are places where your bones meet and your body bends, such as:
    • Fingers
    • Hips
    • Elbows
    • Knees
    • Spine, neck, and lower back

Let’s talk about osteoarthritis.

  • In this presentation, we will focus on dealing with osteoarthritis – the most common type of arthritis.

Arthritis can make you feel uncomfortable and even hurt.

  • Arthritis pain can feel like:
    • A dull ache or
    • A sharp, shooting pain
  • Arthritis can make it hard for you to move or bend your joints by causing:
    • Stiffness
    • Swelling in your joints (and bony “knobs” on your fingers)

Arthritis can make it hard to do everyday activities, such as:

  • Lifting things
  • Getting dressed
  • Standing up
  • Sitting
  • Walking

You are more likely to get arthritis if:

  • You are older than 45
  • You are a woman
  • You are overweight or obese
  • A member of your family has arthritis

You may also get arthritis if:

  • You injured a joint or broke a bone in the past
  • You had a job that required repetitive movement, like
    • Heavy lifting,
    • Typing, or
    • Operating a machine

If you think you have arthritis, see a doctor.

  • The doctor will examine your joints.
  • The doctor may take tests like:
    • X-ray
    • Blood Test

Tell your doctor about what you are feeling in your body (your symptoms).

  • Is the pain you feel…
    • Sharp? Burning? Dull?
  • Do you notice the pain…
    • After an activity? After resting?
  • Does your pain…
    • Come and go? Stay all the time?

Your doctor may prescribe medication or equipment to control pain.

  • Some medications can lessen pain and swelling caused by arthritis.
  • You can protect your joints and make it easier to move with:
    • Braces
    • Canes
    • Grab bars
    • Special shoes
    • Toilet seat support

The doctor may recommend:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Pain management counseling
  • Massage
  • Surgery, such as replacing a joint like a hip or knee

There are things you can do to feel better.

You can take steps to control arthritis pain:

  • Take breaks from stressful activities that cause pain in your joints
  • Use good posture -- stand up and sit up straight
  • Maintain a healthy weight

More ways to control arthritis pain...

  • When lifting or carrying things, use your bigger and stronger joints and muscles – like your knees and your legs
  • You can ask your doctor or support staff for more tips
  • Keep moving – don’t sit or stand in one position too long

Learn more about arthritis and how to live with it.

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Last updated on Thu, 06/10/2010 - 12:24