Why you need to know!
I come across many people who avoid exercise, limit their physical activity, or avoid pursuing favorite hobbies or recreational interests due to pain. When I ask about the cause of the pain, I am often told "probably just some arthritis".
After a few more questions, I find out most of these people have never been diagnosed with arthritis, but continue to live with the pain because it's probably "just arthritis". Many of these people have come to this conclusion on their own, but a surprisingly large number of these people have been told by their doctors that it is "probably just arthritis".
But, you have learned to live with the pain; you avoid movements that cause the pain, take a few extra anti-inflammatories, and chalk it up to getting older. No need for a true diagnosis. Right? Wrong! Pain is your body's call for help. It is not something to just "deal with" and it is not a "normal part of aging".
Without a definite diagnosis, the "probably just arthritis" way of thinking can set you up for future health problems, as well as leave you needlessly putting up with the pain. Arthritis has many health implications if left untreated; most notably being irreversible damage to the joints affected.
Determining the cause is imperative. Possibly some muscle tightness may be causing the pain. No big deal, right? Wrong! Remember, everything in our bodies is connected, meaning tightness in one area of your body will require other areas to compensate which often leads to muscle imbalances.
Overuse of the muscles may also cause pain. Again, muscle imbalances may occur, or the muscle imbalances may be the cause of overuse. Continued over use can contribute to tendonitis, bursitis, muscle strains and other injuries. Possibly that pain in your hands isn't arthritis, may be it's carpal tunnel syndrome. Knowing what truly is causing the pain is the first step to treating the pain.
Many diseases and illness can also cause muscular pain. Autoimmune disorders, infections, fibromyalgia, nutritional deficiencies, and certain medications all include pain in their list of symptoms. Obviously, treating the pain caused by a nutritional deficiency is much different than treating the pain caused by arthritis.
Arthritis is, in fact, quite common - over 50 million adults suffer from some form of the disease and it is the leading cause of disability among American adults. The chance that pain is "just arthritis" is high, but it shouldn't be accepted without a clear diagnosis.
Arthritis is a general term that includes over 100 different diseases. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout are some of the commonly known types of arthritis. Though they are all forms of arthritis, they have very different causes and treatment.
Osteoarthritis, the most common form, is a degenerative disease that occurs when the cartilage that protects the joint wears away. Pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joint are frequently experienced by those suffering from this type of arthritis. Daily tasks may become difficult depending on the joints affected and the severity of the symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis shares many of the symptoms of osteoarthritis, but the cause is much different. RA is an autoimmune disease in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. Unlike OA, rheumatoid arthritis can also affect the lungs, heart and other organs. Fatigue, eye sensitivity, and skin nodules are experienced by many who suffer from RA; symptoms not associated with OA.
Another common form of arthritis that is an autoimmune disease is psoriatic arthritis. Again, joint pain, swelling, and tenderness are present with this disease, but most who suffer from this form of arthritis also have the skin condition, psoriasis. Like RA, the immune system mistakingly attacks the joints, leading to inflammation and pain.
Gout, like OA, is an inflammatory arthritis. Unlike other forms of arthritis, gout is characterized by sudden, severe attacks that include pain, swelling, and tenderness. Oftentimes, the joint of the big toe is attacked.
Pain is the body's way of warning us that something is wrong. Left untreated, the cause of the pain can seriously effect your health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Chronic pain can contribute to depression and anxiety, and may limit your ability to enjoy your favorite activities. Simple tasks may become exhausting or even unmanageable. Life becomes more difficult, your mood changes, and getting through the day, rather than enjoying the day, becomes your goal.
Don't needlessly live with pain and risk further problems in the future. If you are suffering from pain that is "probably just arthritis", do yourself a favor. Get it checked, determine the cause, and take action to prevent or manage the pain. Yes, there are some cases when the cause of pain is difficult to diagnose, but most often the cause can be determined and addressed.
Don't let pain run your life - take the steps to determine and manage the cause of your pain. You will feel better, move better, and live better!
Cinergy Dynamics - "For the Health of it"
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