We’ve all heard of arthritis and feel we know a certain amount about it; probably a majority of us know someone with the condition, but it’s as good as certain that some of us are still harboring one or two misconceptions about it. Given that arthritis is so common and the issues it can create, it is worth finding out a bit more about how it can affect sufferers, what you can do to avoid it, and how to know whether or not you have it yourself. So the following Q&A should hopefully be useful for more than a few readers.
What is arthritis, exactly?
Arthritis is a condition which causes pain and inflammation in the joints. Many of us first see it in older (not elderly) relatives who complain of pain and stiffness in fingers, knees and ankles primarily, but it can affect any joint.
Isn’t arthritis an age-related condition?
While it is most common among older people, arthritis is far from just an elderly thing. It can affect anyone, and celebrities such as tennis pro-Caroline Wozniacki show that even athletes in their prime can be affected. It would be more accurate to say that age is a risk factor for arthritis, but it is far from the only one; diet, weight gain, any occupation that involves bending and crouching, and smoking are just a few other factors that affect it.
Is arthritis incurable?
There is no known cure for arthritis; some people are more prone to it than others, and its severity can be aggravated by lifestyle factors, but it is not the kind of condition that will just go away with treatment. Its symptoms, however, can be mitigated considerably. It affects different people in different ways, so an appointment with the foot & ankle clinic is generally advisable if you’re experiencing issues in those areas. A change to a more Mediterranean diet, with oily fish and antioxidant-rich veg, will usually help. And medication, too, can be vital. Though people often prefer to avoid pharmaceutical avenues, there’s no doubt that they can be the key to living a more comfortable life.
Can you “wait and see” if arthritis symptoms go away on their own?
It’s your health, you can do precisely as you wish. But if you’re experiencing joint pain and stiffness which is persisting beyond isolated occurrences, then it’s really advised to seek help for it sooner rather than later. Arthritis is a chronic, progressive condition, so if you leave it to resolve on its own, it won’t. It will almost certainly deteriorate and can do so quickly. The sooner you do something about it, the better your outcome will be. Left alone, it can progress to the point where the joints affected are close to unusable.
What medications are used for arthritis?
Relatively mild NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can be used to treat the symptoms of arthritis, but in more pronounced cases it is likely you will be prescribed what is known as a COX-2 inhibitor, which promotes the production of enzymes that specifically target the inflammatory factor that causes arthritis. These medications, which include celecoxib and valdecoxib, can dramatically reduce inflammation and pain from the condition.
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