What Is Arthritis?
Many people believe that arthritis is a series of minor aches and pains associated with aging. In fact, arthritis is a family of musculoskeletal disorders with a range of more than 100 different diseases and conditions that can strike people of any age. In fact, two-thirds of the more than 50 million Americans who suffer from arthritis are younger than 65, including 300,000 children, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
While there are many forms of arthritis, there are three common forms, causes and symptoms that may mean you should check with your doctor to see if you may have developed arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. This progressive, degenerative joint disease is characterized by the breakdown of joint cartilage. This form of arthritis is most often associated with old age, being overweight/obese, and a history of joint injury.
Osteoarthritis develops when cartilage, the spongy tissue that cushions joints, deteriorates, causing the bones to rub up against one another. Doctors can test your body’s range of motion to determine whether you may be suffering from osteoarthritis, and follow up with an X-ray to evaluate joint-space narrowing, bony spurs, or cysts on the bone.
Osteoarthritis sufferers should be careful about their physical activity, but not become couch potatoes. Low-impact exercise, like swimming, biking and walking, are important to keep joints in motion, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen (Aleve) or ibuprofen (Advil) to manage pain.