There are different types of arthritis, most of them affect the joints and body with pain and stiffness. It can be difficult to know if you have arthritis; however, there are several symptoms that are consistent with the disease.
The five most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Gout, and Lupus. (Bruce, 2020) Diagnosing arthritis should begin with your primary care physician who may refer you to a rheumatologist, a doctor specializing in systemic autoimmune diseases.
Your doctor will want to know if you are experiencing some of these arthritis symptoms:
- Pain: Pain can come and go or it can be constant. It can occur in one part of the body or many parts.
- Swelling: Some types of arthritis cause the skin over the affected joint to become red and swollen, feeling warm to the touch. Swelling that lasts for three days or longer or occurs more than three times a month should prompt a visit to the doctor.
- Stiffness: Stiffness is a classic arthritis symptom, especially when waking up in the morning or after sitting at a desk or riding in a car for a long time. Morning stiffness that lasts longer than an hour can be an indication you have arthritis.
- Difficulty moving a joint: It shouldn’t be that hard or painful to get up from your favorite chair.
There is no exact test to determine arthritis, so doctors need all the information about your pain that you can gather to make an accurate diagnosis. Everyone can experience these symptoms differently so it’s best to document when you feel stiffness, discomfort or notice swelling and where you feel it in your body to keep tabs on your pain. Include in your notes and any remedies that seem to help alleviate pain as these can also be helpful to your doctor in diagnosing arthritis.
If arthritis is suspected, your doctor will perform a series of physical tests to determine what type of arthritis you have. A visual exam of joints and tissue around joints will be performed. They will move your joints to test for range of motion and stiffness, and some physical tests may be painful.
The analysis of different types of body fluids can help pinpoint the type of arthritis you may have. Tests of commonly analyzed fluids include blood, urine, and joint fluid. (Arthritis.org)
Imaging can detect problems within the joint that may be causing your symptoms.
Different types of imaging for arthritis include:
- X-rays Using low levels of radiation to visualize bone, X-rays can show cartilage loss, bone damage and bone spurs. X-rays may not reveal early arthritic damage, but they are often used to track progression of the disease.
- Computerized tomography (CT) CT scanners take X-rays from many different angles and combine the information to create cross-sectional views of internal structures. CTs can visualize both bone and the surrounding soft tissues.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Combining radio waves with a strong magnetic field, MRIs can produce more-detailed cross-sectional images of soft tissues such as cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
- Ultrasound. This technology uses high-frequency sound waves to image soft tissues, cartilage, and fluid-containing structures near the joints (bursae). Ultrasound is also used to guide needle placement for removing joint fluid or injecting medications into the joint.
Pain and sleep problems can go hand in hand. Pain makes it hard to sleep. Poor sleep can worsen pain. Rest is important when your disease is active, and your joints feel painful, swollen or stiff. Lighten your schedule and obligations and ask for help when you need to. Pace yourself throughout your day and take breaks when you can. Be sure rest is part of your arthritis management regimen.
It may be the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, but exercise will help. It strengthens muscles that support your painful joints, keeps joints mobile, helps you get restful sleep, boosts mood and helps you lose excess pounds that add stress to joints.
Along with exercise, healthy eating can help you reach and keep a healthy weight, lessening stress on joints. Add anti-inflammatory foods such as green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards. Also nuts like almonds and walnuts help control inflammation.
Living With Intention Means Lessoned Symptoms
Living with arthritis awareness will help you manage your pain. By incorporating healthy physical habits and healthy eating, along with pharma therapy prescribed by your doctor, we can manage better. There is no cure to aging, but we can age gracefully with these arthritis health tips.
Bruce, D. F. (2020, June 9). 5 common types of arthritis. WebMD. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/guide/most-common-arthritis-types
Arthritis.org. (n.d.). Do I Have Arthritis? Arthritis.org. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/do-i-have-arthritis
Blood, Fluid and Tissue Tests for Arthritis. Arthrtitis.org. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/about-arthritis/understanding-arthritis/blood,-fluid-and-tissue-tests-for-arthritis
ACR, R. S. N. A. and. (2020, June 15). Arthritis. Radiologyinfo.org. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info/arthritis