Most people experience some degree of joint pain during their lifetimes. So how should one know whether or not he or she has arthritis?
Some common symptoms include mild to severe swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion, according to The Arthritis Foundation. Symptoms can be constant, or they can come and go. Sometimes, arthritis causes permanent joint changes, as in a knobby finger, but most often arthritis is only visible on an X-ray.
Arthritis is an umbrella term to describe more than 100 different types of joint pain or joint disease. The Arthritis Foundation reports arthritis affects more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the United States, making it one of the leading causes of disability.
More than 50% of people over the age of 65 develop osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disorder, in which the cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears away, says WebMD. When this happens, bone rubs against bone. This sensation can be extremely painful and can cause swelling and stiffness. Osteoarthritis typically occurs in the fingers, wrists, knees, ankles and hips. It also plagues the lower back.
According to Healthline, joint stiffness, abnormal sensations, and loss of flexibility are some of the most common first signs of osteoarthritis.
Stiffness first thing in the morning or after long periods of sitting is a common symptom of osteoarthritis. Instead of succumbing to the sluggish urge to go back to bed, it is important to stretch gently and to get your joints moving.
The wearing away of cartilage and sensation of bone-against-bone is a rather unusual feeling. If you notice any strange feelings in your joints or feel or hear your joints click and crack when you move, you may be experiencing early signs of osteoarthritis.
Losing flexibility and range of motion is yet another common symptom. Trouble bending elbows, wrists, knees, or ankles are red flags.
Osteoarthritis symptoms tend to flare up at specific times of the day. This varies from person to person but is often in the morning, in the evening, or after certain activities. Pay attention to your body and timing. Make a note of the time at which you experience pain and stiffness. Doing so can help with pain management, as you will be able to take preemptive measures to stretch, move, or exercise at your most arthritic moments.
Risk factors for osteoarthritis are obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition, and previous joint injuries, reports WebMD. Therefore, the best way to prevent osteoarthritis is to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and have injuries properly treated.
When it comes to nutrition, it is essential to eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Fish, olive oil, and flaxseed are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruit, green pepper, broccoli, tomato, cantaloupe, and potato. The body gets the majority of its vitamin D from the sun, which is why it is important to exercise outdoors. Vitamin D is also found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and herring.
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Be sure to consult your physician. Any home remedies or major changes to your diet should be done under the guidance of a medical professional.