10 Things You Need to Know and Understand About Arthritis
If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, it’s important to learn all that you can about the disease. These 10 facts will help get you started.
Arthritis Is Not a Single Disease
Many people think that arthritis is a single disease. Actually, there are over 100 types of arthritis and related rheumatic conditions. It’s important to be accurately diagnosed and know what type of arthritis you have so that you can begin an appropriate course of treatment.
There Is No Known Cure for Most Types of Arthritis
Though some forms of arthritis, like Lyme arthritis, may be curable with antibiotics, there is no single medication or treatment that cures most types of arthritis. Treatment options can help manage pain, control arthritis symptoms, slow disease progression, and reduce joint damage or deformity, but they don’t cure arthritis.
Myths and Misconceptions About Arthritis Can Interfere With Treatment
Have you heard that arthritis only affects old people? Not true. Do you think that arthritis causes only minor aches and pains? Also not true. Have you heard that common forms of arthritis can be cured by changes in your diet? While rare forms of arthritis, such as arthropathy associated with Celiac disease, can effectively be cured with a gluten-free diet, this claim is inapplicable to the vast majority of cases. These and several other examples of myths and misconceptions about arthritis, perpetuated by the spread of inaccurate information, can keep you from managing the disease properly. Be sure to educate yourself about the facts.
You Should See a Rheumatologist for Your Arthritis
Your primary care doctor can refer you to a rheumatologist or you can get an appointment through self-referral if your health insurance allows it. Evaluation by a rheumatologist is important so that you can determine your type of arthritis and start a treatment plan.
Early Diagnosis and Treatment for Arthritis Is Essential
Since there are various types of arthritis and many treatment options, it’s important to be properly diagnosed and treated early in the course of the disease. Delaying diagnosis and treatment may allow arthritis symptoms to worsen. Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best chance of preventing joint damage and disability.
Finding Optimal Arthritis Treatment Requires Trial and Error
There are two important points to remember about arthritis treatment. Patients vary in their response to arthritis medications or other arthritis treatments. What works for one person may not work for another. Also, to find the safest and most effective medication or combination of medications, you’ll have to weigh the benefits versus the risks.
A Healthy Lifestyle and Good Habits Can Positively Impact Arthritis
Regular exercise, maintaining your ideal weight, stress reduction, being a non-smoker, and getting sufficient, high-quality sleep are all important for living well with arthritis.
The Emotional Impact of Arthritis Goes Beyond Physical Limitations
So many emotions are stirred when you live with chronic pain. Anger, resentment, depression, isolation, and fear are just a few. It’s important for you and your loved ones to realize that the impact of arthritis goes beyond physical limitations.
The Cost of Arthritis Is High
Arthritis and related rheumatic conditions are recognized as the leading cause of disability in the United States. According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the total medical cost of arthritis is $140 billion per year and rising. For medical expenses and lost wages combined due to arthritis, the cost is $303.5 billion per year.
Arthritis Can Cause Functional Limitations That Interfere With Daily Activities
According to the CDC, more than 43.5 percent (23.7 million) of adults with doctor-diagnosed arthritis report arthritis-attributable activity limitations. Some of the limitations affect usual activities of daily living which require bending, stooping, walking, and climbing stairs. Consequently, cleaning, cooking, personal hygiene, and other usual activities may be affected.