Arthritis is a common condition where joints become stiff and painful, affecting people more often as they grow older. Yet half of the adults with arthritis in the US are diagnosed under the age of 65. Painful, stiff, swollen joints can make moving around and doing the things you love a challenge. While rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most prevalent forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis is by far the most common.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that can result in joint deformities and severe chronic pain. Today’s treatments, when started at the very early stages, may halt its progress or even put RA into remission. Early detection is so important.
Osteoarthritis (OA) usually affects older people as their joints suffer wear and tear over the course of a lifetime. Cartilage and synovium are worn away, causing painful bone-on-bone rubbing. The progress and severity of OA may be altered by making lifestyle changes, so it’s also important to recognize early signs and begin making healthy choices to minimize the damage to joints.
Here are some of the early warning signs of arthritis:
Early signs of arthritis:
- Feeling of stiffness that doesn’t go away within a half hour after getting out of bed
- Pain in the knees and difficulty climbing stairs
- Drowsiness and flu-like symptoms that last longer than a week
- Bony spurs (bumps) on the knuckles of your hands
- Excruciating pain in a big toe is an indication of gout, another type of arthritis
- Aching fingers, especially when it rains
Extra weight on your joints is one factor that can make OA more severe. Pain in the knees in a person who is overweight is likely a warning of more pain to come. Losing weight and exercise are good ways to reduce wear on the cartilage within weight-bearing joints like your knees and hips. Exercise and diet, both important factors with weight loss, can also have a great effect on arthritis symptoms. For instance, there are many foods that either increase or decrease inflammation in the body.
If you have any of these warning signs and are concerned that you may be developing rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, make an appointment with a specialist right away.