Arthritis Awareness Month is observed in May, and it’s a period to highlight what arthritis is, the impact it’s having on lives and the continued need for research and advocacy on behalf of all arthritis sufferers across America. Arthritis cases are on the rise, even as the condition remains a mystery. More than 50 million adults in the U.S. are affected by arthritis, and the number is projected to climb in the coming decades. Gout can impair quality of life and cause limitations and disabilities. In fact, it is the most common cause of permanent disability in Americans.

What is Arthritis?

According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is an informal way of saying joint pain or joint disease; however, arthritis is not a single disease. Instead, there exist more than 100 types of arthritis and related health issues. Arthritis affects people from varied backgrounds, including men and women, different races, and age groups. While there are dozens of varying arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the most frequently occurring types. Osteoarthritis damages cartilage by causing it to wear out, while rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, begins by targeting the lining of the joint (synovial) but has the potential to cause damage to the skin, lungs, heart, and eyes. It is possible for certain types of arthritis to develop the cause of underlying disease as well.

Arthritis Symptoms

With so many different types of arthritis, there are symptoms unique to each specific type of arthritis. However, there are sure common signs and symptoms of arthritis that pertains to the joints. These can include pain and stiffness, swelling and redness, deformity, lumps around the joint, tenderness, grinding sensation and decreased range of motion in the joint.

Arthritis Risk Factors

Several common risk factors are associated with arthritis, despite different arthritis that exists and their specific risk factors. Common risk factors include:
● Genetics: Individuals with a family history of arthritis have a higher risk of developing particular types of arthritis.
● Age: Arthritis tends to develop in older individuals and is a primary risk factor of rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and gout.
● Sex: Common types of arthritis in women are rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and fibromyalgia, while gout is typically more common in men.
● Old Joint Damage: An old joint injury can make an individual more susceptible to developing arthritis later.

Treating Arthritis
There is no cure presently for many types of arthritis. The treatment of arthritis emphasizes the improvement of joint function and improving the symptoms. Sometimes a treatment plan may involve trying out different treatments or a combination of treatments to meet specific needs.

Taking control of your arthritis is essential to maintaining a good quality of life. Accurate diagnosis and an appropriate treatment plan can minimize the symptoms of the condition. Preventing the advancement of the disease will help in preserving the function of your joints, and will help you to continue with the activities that you enjoy.