Affinity Health Plan

  • Health Awareness Series: August 2016 - Arthritis

    August 22, 2016

    What is Arthritis?
    Arthritis is a disease of the joints of your body (like the knee, fingers or neck). A joint is a part of your body where the bones meet. People who have arthritis have pain and stiffness in their joints. It is very common. According to the Arthritis Foundation, more than 1 in 5 people over age 18 have some kind of arthritis. There are over 100 types of arthritis. The most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but they hurt joints in different ways. The chart below shows the difference between the two.

      Osteoarthritis (OA) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
    What is arthritis? OA is a disease of “wear and tear”, or overuse. Over many years, the coating between the bones at your joints becomes rough and worn.  

    RA is an immune system disease. For reasons we don’t know, the immune system attacks the joints. RA can destroy the joints, and affect your whole body. Finding out if you have RA and treating it early can prevent damage to your joints and the rest of your body. 

    Who gets the disease?
    • Age: men usually feel OA pains after 45 years of age. Women after 55
    • Women are more likely to develop OA
    • Joint injury: getting hurt while playing a sport or in an accident increases the chance of having OA
    • Weight: extra pounds increase the risk of OA, especially in the knees, hips and back
    • Family history
     
    • Age: RA most often sets in between the ages of 40 – 60
    • Women are more likely to get RA
    • Family history
    • Smoking
    • Being overweight
     
    What are the symptoms?
    • Pain
    • Stiffness, mainly in the morning or after not moving for a while
    • Less range of motion, joints are not as flexible as before
    • Clicks or other sounds when you move your joint 
     
    • Tender, warm, swollen joints
    • Stiffness that is worse in the morning but may last for a long time
    • Being tired
    • Fever
    • Weight loss
     
    What is the treatment?
    • Exercise: Gentle movement, such as swimming or walking, can help. Tai chi and yoga are especially helpful.
    • Physical Therapy (PT): PT builds muscles. Using muscles and not the joints when you move helps with pain.
    • Medicine: Your doctor can tell you what medicine will help. Two choices are Tylenol or ibuprofen. Be sure to take the drugs the way your doctor says. They can cause liver or kidney damage if taken the wrong way.
    • Joint replacement: If your OA gets very bad, a doctor can take out the worn out joint and put in a new one.
     
    • Medicine: People who have RA take medicines to help with the symptoms.
      • DMARDS (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs): medicines made for people with RA. They slow down RA and save the joints
        • - Biologics: These are special kinds of DMARDS. Two examples are Enbrel and Humira
         
      • NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs): two NSAIDs are Advil and Aleve. Steroids help with pain and lessen swelling
       
    • Physical Therapy: PT builds muscles. Using muscles and not your joints when you move helps reduce pain.
    • Surgery: If your RA gets very bad, a doctor can take out the worn out joint and put in a new one.
    • Exercise: such as tai chi. Ask your doctor before you exercise.
     
    Take charge of your health…
    • Exercise
    • Lose weight
    • Use heat to get rid of stiffness, cold can get rid of some pain
    • Some creams sold in drug stores may help with pain
    • Assistive devices, like a cane, can help you walk. Tools may help with tasks such as opening a jar or reaching up into a cabinet
     
    • Take medication as your doctor tells you
    • Do gentle exercise such as chair yoga or swimming
    • Use heat to get rid of stiffness. Cold can get rid of some pain
    • Relax: ease the stress in your life
    • Assistive devices, like a cane, can help you walk. Tools may help with tasks such as opening a jar or reaching up into a cabinet
     

    To learn more:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/types.html

    To learn more:

    Arthritis Foundation: http://www.arthritis.org/new-york/
    Patient Education Center - Harvard Medical School: http://www.patienteducationcenter.org/
    Mayo Clinic: Search: "Osteoarthritis” or “Rheumatoid Arthritis”: http://www.mayoclinic.org/  


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