Take the Fight to Arthritis

5/1/2011

More than 46 million Americans (one in five adults) suffer from arthritis, an inflammation of the joints that causes pain, stiffness, swelling and lack of mobility. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people over age 15.

"There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but by far the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis," says Thomas McClure, M.D. an orthopaedics specialist at Southern Tennessee Medical Center.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the lining of a joint becomes inflamed. It’s a serious, painful and often debilitating condition. Treatment usually involves a combination of medications, regular exercise and physical therapy.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It occurs when cartilage that covers the ends of the bones deteriorates and can no longer provide a cushioning effect. Occurring most frequently in the knees, hips and hands, osteoarthritis affects about 27 million Americans. By maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly, you can prevent osteoarthritis or keep its symptoms from getting worse. Working with a therapist can help relieve stress and strengthen the muscles around the joint. In more severe cases, joint replacement surgery or surgery to realign the bones have been proven effective.

Although there is currently no known cure for arthritis, treatment options are available to manage the disease and reduce its symptoms. Unfortunately, half of all Americans have the mistaken impression that nothing can be done to treat arthritis. Treatments are much more effective when the condition is diagnosed at an early stage. See your physician as soon as possible.

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