Do I Have Arthritis?

Do I Have Arthritis?

How do you know if your joint symptoms mean you have arthritis? Only a health care professional can tell you for sure, but certain signs usually point to arthritis. There are four important warning signs that should prompt you to talk to a health care provider.

Warning Signs

1. Pain

Pain from arthritis can be constant or it may come and go. It may occur when at rest or while moving. Pain may be in one part of the body or in many different parts.

2. 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.

3. Stiffness

This 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 is good reason to suspect arthritis.

4. Difficulty moving a joint.

It shouldn’t be that hard or painful to get up from your favorite chair.

What To Do:

 

Your experience with these symptoms will help your doctor pin down the type and extent of arthritis. Before visiting the doctor, keep track of your symptoms for a few weeks, noting what is swollen and stiff, when, for how long and what helps ease the symptoms. Be sure to note other types of symptoms, even if they seem unrelated, such as fatigue or rash.   If you have a fever along with these symptoms you  may need to seek immediate medical care.

If the doctor suspects arthritis, they will perform physical tests to check the range of motion in your joints, asking you to move the joint back and forth. The doctor may also check passive range of motion by moving the joint for you. Any pain during a range of motion test is a possible symptom of arthritis. Your doctor will ask you about your medical history and may order lab tests as needed.

Most people start with their primary care physician, but it’s possible to be referred to doctors who specialize in treating arthritis and related conditions. Getting an accurate diagnosis is an important step to getting timely medical care for your condition.

How to Manage Your Osteoarthritis

How to Manage Your Osteoarthritis

(HealthDay News) — Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 31 million Americans, and is the leading cause of disability among adults.

Known as OA, it causes pain and other symptoms in joints, which can affect the ability to do everyday tasks. There’s no known cure, but there are treatments that can relieve pain and maintain joint function, according to a rheumatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“Osteoarthritis is the thinning or wearing down of cartilage, which is the cushion between the separate bones in a joint,” Dr. Francis Luk said in a health system news release. “When your doctor says you have arthritis, most often they are referring to osteoarthritis.”

The main risk factors are aging, obesity, prior injury, repetitive stress on a joint and genetics. OA can occur in any joint, but the most common are knees, hips and hands.

“Symptoms vary from person to person but someone with osteoarthritis of the knee typically will have pain when they stand up from a seated position or when they’re walking, especially when going up and down stairs,” Luk said.

“With osteoarthritis of the hands, people typically experience pain when they do things that involve gripping — washing dishes, holding a wrench, opening a jar, things like that,” he added.

Treatments include over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Other nonprescription options include topical creams and gels, such as those containing trolamine salicylate (Aspercreme), and the use of heating pads and ice packs.

Assistive devices such as canes, shoe orthotics, jar openers and tools with thicker handles can help with routine tasks.

For more advanced cases of OA, there are prescription pills and creams and steroid injections. The last resort is joint replacement surgery, especially of knees and hips.

“We always try to delay turning to surgery for as long as we can,” Luk said. “However, if you get to a point where you can’t walk from your living room chair to the bedroom, it would be a good idea to see an orthopedic surgeon.”

And, remember, two of the best ways to combat OA are maintaining a normal weight and getting regular exercise, he said.

“I tell people to do as much as they can tolerate until they have some pain and then rest,” Luk said. “I never recommend completely stopping activities, because the downside of inactivity is worse than osteoarthritis.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on osteoarthritis.

SOURCE: Wake Forest Baptist Health System, news release, Oct. 10, 2019

Copyright ©2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
How to Manage Your Osteoarthritis

How to Manage Your Osteoarthritis

(HealthDay News) — Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting about 31 million Americans, and is the leading cause of disability among adults.

Known as OA, it causes pain and other symptoms in joints, which can affect the ability to do everyday tasks. There’s no known cure, but there are treatments that can relieve pain and maintain joint function, according to a rheumatologist at Wake Forest Baptist Health in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“Osteoarthritis is the thinning or wearing down of cartilage, which is the cushion between the separate bones in a joint,” Dr. Francis Luk said in a health system news release. “When your doctor says you have arthritis, most often they are referring to osteoarthritis.”

The main risk factors are aging, obesity, prior injury, repetitive stress on a joint and genetics. OA can occur in any joint, but the most common are knees, hips and hands.

“Symptoms vary from person to person but someone with osteoarthritis of the knee typically will have pain when they stand up from a seated position or when they’re walking, especially when going up and down stairs,” Luk said.

“With osteoarthritis of the hands, people typically experience pain when they do things that involve gripping — washing dishes, holding a wrench, opening a jar, things like that,” he added.

Treatments include over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).

Other nonprescription options include topical creams and gels, such as those containing trolamine salicylate (Aspercreme), and the use of heating pads and ice packs.

Assistive devices such as canes, shoe orthotics, jar openers and tools with thicker handles can help with routine tasks.

For more advanced cases of OA, there are prescription pills and creams and steroid injections. The last resort is joint replacement surgery, especially of knees and hips.

“We always try to delay turning to surgery for as long as we can,” Luk said. “However, if you get to a point where you can’t walk from your living room chair to the bedroom, it would be a good idea to see an orthopedic surgeon.”

And, remember, two of the best ways to combat OA are maintaining a normal weight and getting regular exercise, he said.

“I tell people to do as much as they can tolerate until they have some pain and then rest,” Luk said. “I never recommend completely stopping activities, because the downside of inactivity is worse than osteoarthritis.”

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on osteoarthritis.

SOURCE: Wake Forest Baptist Health System, news release, Oct. 10, 2019

Copyright ©2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Your Noisy Knees May Be Trying to Tell You Something

Your Noisy Knees May Be Trying to Tell You Something

THURSDAY, Oct. 17, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Ever hear your joints clicking, creaking or crunching? Now, researchers say a new technique that listens closely to knees may help doctors diagnose and monitor osteoarthritis.

In the new study, researchers attached small microphones to participants’ knees, which allowed them to listen for high-frequency sounds as the person repeatedly stood up and sat down again.

Computer analysis of the sounds then provided information about the health of the knee, the study authors explained.

This study is the first to assess this technique in a large number of people with knee osteoarthritis. It was found to distinguish between healthy knees and those afflicted by this “wear-and-tear” form of arthritis.

The findings move the technique a step closer to use by doctors and in research, according to the report published Oct. 16 in the journal PLOS ONE.

“This work is very exciting because it involves scientists and clinicians working together as a team to develop an entirely new approach,” said project leader John Goodacre. He’s an emeritus professor at Lancaster University, in the United Kingdom.

“Potentially, this could transform ways in which knee osteoarthritis is managed. It will enable better diagnosis, and will enable treatments to be tailored more precisely according to individual knee condition. It will also enable faster, bigger and better clinical trials of new treatments,” Goodacre said in a university news release.

The next step for researchers is to develop a non-invasive portable device that health care providers could use to assess whether patients’ knees are changing or are responding to treatment for osteoarthritis.

This technique could provide a quicker, cheaper, more convenient and more accurate assessment than current methods, the study authors said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on osteoarthritis.

SOURCE: Lancaster University, news release, Oct. 16, 2019

Copyright ©2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Health Tip: Managing Arthritis of the Hands

Health Tip: Managing Arthritis of the Hands

(HealthDay News) — Arthritis is a collection of joint diseases that affect more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States.

The joint pain, swelling or stiffness that may come with arthritis can be debilitating, says the Arthritis Foundation.

To manage arthritis of the hands, the foundation suggests:

  • Use cold packs to numb the joints and reduce swelling.
  • For significant inflammation, heat packs may provide relief.
  • Immobilize the hand with a splint or brace overnight.
  • Use a grip or similar device if you have trouble grasping or holding things.
Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
Younger Gout Patients Have Higher Odds for Blood Clots

Younger Gout Patients Have Higher Odds for Blood Clots

MONDAY, June 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Older age raises the odds of many ills, but for adults with gout, it’s the younger ones who have the highest risk for developing a serious blood clot, new research indicates.

Gout patients of any age have a 25% greater risk of developing a blood clot deep in the veins in the first 10 years after diagnosis, the British study found.

But “the risk was 79% higher in gout patients, compared to those without gout, in the under-50 age group,” explained study lead author Alyshah Abdul Sultan.

Gout is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis, affecting more than 4% of U.S. adults, according to the Arthritis Foundation. It develops in people who have high levels of uric acid in the blood. The acid can cause painful crystals to form in the joints.

In this study, researchers compared roughly 62,000 gout patients with an equal number of gout-free adults. The investigators found that the raised blood clot risk was largely confined to gout patients under the age of 50.

“We did not observe much higher risk in the older population,” added Sultan, a fellow at Keele University’s arthritis research center in Staffordshire, England. But, he noted, because blood clot risk increases with age regardless of gout status, “it may have obscured the effect of gout in the older population.”

Blood clot risk rose, said Sultan, whether or not younger patients had their gout under control by means of standard uric-acid lowering medications, such as allopurinol (Zyloprim). Such drugs can dramatically lower the incidence of painful gout attacks, by tamping down the abnormally high uric acid concentrations.

Still, Sultan and other experts stressed that the bottom-line risk for developing a blood clot remains low for someone with gout. This suggests that proactive treatment to reduce clot risk might not be necessary.

According to Dr. Gregg Fonarow, “The overall risk was modest in absolute terms.” Fonarow is co-director of the preventative cardiology program at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“As the absolute increased risk is small, the presence of gout alone would not warrant use of anticoagulation [blood-thinning] therapy,” Fonarow said.

Sultan said the study findings were “not very surprising, as we already know that chronic inflammation increases the risk of blood clots through various mechanisms. Previous research has already highlighted rheumatological conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, as important risk factors for blood clots,” he noted.

Still, while blood clot risk may not be sufficient to warrant preventive intervention on its own, he said there may be need for clinical vigilance, particularly in younger adults with newly diagnosed gout.

For the study, the researchers reviewed primary care information collected by the England-based Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

The investigators first identified patients diagnosed with gout between 1998 and 2017, and matched them with roughly the same number of gout-free adults.

The team concluded that clot risk rose significantly among gout patients under 50 in the decade following diagnosis. Also, risk appeared to rise equally among males and females, and whether or not they took allopurinol.

“However, the results of our analysis of urate-lowering therapy may be generalizable only to those prescribed 300 milligrams of allopurinol or less, a dose level widely used in U.K. primary care,” Sultan noted.

Research is needed to determine the impact, if any, of higher doses, he added.

As to why gout might lead to a higher clot risk, Sultan said the risk association may be due to various inflammatory pathways. Although this process isn’t fully understood, he noted that uric acid “can initiate, amplify and sustain inflammatory response.”

However, Fonarow said many factors can drive up clot risk. These include a history of smoking, obesity and use of estrogen. People who are immobile or undergoing surgery are also at elevated risk of venous blood clots.

The report was published in the June 3 issue of CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

More information

For more about blood clot risk, visit the American Society of Hematology.

SOURCES: Alyshah Abdul Sultan, research fellow, epidemiology and applied statistics, Arthritis Research U.K. Primary Care Centre Research Institute for Primary Care & Health Sciences, Keele University, Staffordshire, U.K.; Gregg Fonarow, M.D., director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, and co-director, preventative cardiology program, University of California, Los Angeles; June 3, 2019, CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)Copyright ©2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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