Despite human beings ranking at the bottom in physical strength and stamina, we are still at the top of the food chain. This is largely because of our intellect. While there are species such as dolphins and parrots that are extremely intelligent, the only reason they are unable to dominate the planet is that they lack dexterity. Therefore, losing the ability to carry out tasks that require dexterity is not only infuriating but also saddening. Arthritis is one of the conditions that limit our physical movement and even disables us in some scenarios. Here are some interesting facts about this disorder:
1. Not just a single disease
When we think of arthritis, usually a picture of an elderly person with inflamed joints comes to mind. Presently, there are 100 known forms of arthritis; however, among them, three are considered the major types of arthritis, which are:
Osteoarthritis- Easily one of the most common forms of arthritis in the world. It is a condition that causes joints to degenerate, and it is often referred to as “wear and tear” arthritis. In the United States, there are approximately 21 million people suffering from this arthritis, and it is common among the elderly.
Rheumatoid Arthritis- It is a type of autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes inflammation because the immune system attacks the lining of the tissues. This condition occurs mostly in the wrists and knees. It often leads to chronic pain and deformity. Moreover, the entire body is affected by this arthritis, resulting in fever and fatigue as well.
Fibromyalgia- Unlike the other two types, fibromyalgia results in stiffness of the joints that causes pain and a lack of mobility. It also affects the muscles and tendons as well. Lastly, it makes people more sensitive to pain.
2. No Cure
Despite all the treatment options available for different types of arthritis, none is able to cure the disease itself. All the treatments work to ease the pain or the inflammation caused by arthritis. Even the surgical options only provide temporary relief by enhancing joint mobility; however, it is not a permanent solution.
3. Under the weather?
Arthritis can become more or less intense depending on the weather. Most people experience increased pain and stiffness during the winters; however, in rare cases, some people begin to experience swelling and aching in summers. Taking a pain killer is advised, along with stretching.
4. Ice pack or heating pad?
Perhaps one of the most confusing aspects of arthritis is when to apply heat or cold to the affected area. The truth is, it depends on various factors.
Heat: If the muscles and joints are stiff, then heat therapy is advised because it increases the blood flow in the affected area and provides relief.
Cold: If the joint is inflamed and causing pain, then applying cold to the area is recommended. This is to restrict warm blood from flowing into the swelled area.
Alternating Therapy: Although it can be performed on your own, it is best to let a professional carry it out to avoid further damage. In this, both hot and cold pads are applied after a specified time gap to enhance the flow of blood and reduce swelling, respectively. Additionally, either heat or cold can be applied depending on the activity. For instance, joints can be warmed up in the morning to relieve any pain and stiffness that may have occurred during the night.
5. Be Mobile
Although arthritis causes joints to freeze and ache, moving the affected joints can ease the pain in the long run. Movement is essential for our body, and in doing so, blood can easily flow into the entire body. This blood flow lubricates and causes joints to move freely. Therefore, daily movement is crucial for arthritis patients.
6. Sometimes assistance is good
Depending on the severity of the condition, a physician may advise the patient to use a cane, walker, or a wheelchair. Unfortunately, most people tend to avoid using any physical aids, especially young people, because using the mentioned products are often associated with old age. However, not using any physical aids when it is necessary can further increase the damage to the joints and tendons.
Experiencing injuries in the teenage years and even in the early 20s is a part of life, and fortunately, most of those can be walked off. Interestingly, experts claim that with each knee injury, the risk of developing osteoarthritis increases sixfold. Similarly, hip injuries are known to increase the chance of developing arthritis past 60 by three times. Therefore, it is always a good idea to visit a physiotherapist after encountering an injury.
8. Not under orthopedics
Interestingly, arthritis is treated by rheumatologists and not by orthopedics, despite it affecting the joints. It is because arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation and pain. Moreover, only rheumatologists are able to accurately diagnose arthritis.
9. Not limited to adults
While it is a common understanding that the elderly are prone to arthritis, children are not safe from it either. Moreover, it is difficult to diagnose arthritis in children; however, certain symptoms such as joint pain, fever, stiffness, fatigue, and difficulty in playing can be early signs of arthritis. Presently, there are 300,000 children with arthritis in the United States.
10. Diet plays a role
In addition to hot and cold therapy, conscious eating is also important for people with arthritis. Avoiding cold food is important in arthritis, as it can lead to stiffness in joints. Additionally, adding anti-inflammatory foods such as turmeric, whole grains, and nuts can help.
11. Arthritis is expensive
Among all the conditions that cause disabilities, arthritis is one of the most expensive conditions in the United States. Annually, it costs the healthcare system $140 billion according to the statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Apart from the healthcare, it is among the top 10 causes that force people to skip work.