An overview of arthritis
Arthritis is not one disease alone, but an umbrella term for more than 100 conditions that affect the joints of the body. Joints are points where two or more bones meet, such as in the wrist, knuckles, hips, knees and ankles.
The three most common types of arthritis found in Australians are:
- rheumatoid arthritis
Other types of arthritis include:
- juvenile arthritis
- ankylosing spondylitis
- systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
Symptoms of arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis vary from person to person. But if you have arthritis, you will almost certainly have symptoms relating to your joints, such as:
- redness and heat
- stiffness or reduced movement.
Some people also get other problems outside their joints. Other common symptoms include:
- weight loss
- skin problems
- feeling unwell.
If you have any symptoms of arthritis, it is important you see your doctor to get a diagnosis and start treatment. Without treatment, the condition may get worse and cause long-term damage.
Some types of arthritis can be difficult to diagnose, so it may take a few visits and tests to get a definite diagnosis. Your doctor may also need to refer you to a rheumatologist, who specialises in conditions that affect the joints.
For many types of arthritis, there are treatments available that can help control symptoms and prevent damage to the joints.
The most appropriate treatment will depend on which type of arthritis you have, which joints are affected, and the symptoms you have.
Treatment might include:
- medications, such as pain-killers, anti-inflammatory drugs or disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (used for inflammatory forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis)
- pain management techniques, such as meditation.
In severe cases, surgery may be needed to replace or repair damaged joints.
Living with arthritis
There are many things you can do to help manage arthritis so you can meet the demands of daily life.
Among the most important things are to:
- maintain a healthy weight
- eat a well-balanced diet
- exercise regularly
- learn ways to manage your pain
- seek support when you need it.
- Take Homeopathy treatment