Arthritis is a general term for over 100 different rheumatic diseases, most of which can affect the joints.
Arthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the joints. It’s a common disease, but one that can be managed with a variety of treatments. Sometimes arthritis is called ‘the great imitator’ because it can affect so many parts of the body. However, it usually affects joints such as the knees, hands, hips and feet. When people hear arthritis they might think about old age or athletes who have injured themselves playing sports, but it often impacts people in their thirties as well as those who are older than 65 years old.
Having arthritis not only can affect one’s mobility but can also have an effect on one’s mental health.
The most common type of arthritis
The various types of arthritic conditions differ in their causes, symptoms, and treatment methods. The most common type is osteoarthritis, a condition that occurs when the joints lose their cushioning and protective layer of cartilage.
Osteoarthritis is characterized by pain and stiffness in the affected joints, especially in the morning or after periods of rest. It may also cause limited movement due to its degenerative nature.
It can happen to people of any age or gender but often starts after age 40 and progresses over five to ten years. Osteoarthritis is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases among adults over 55 years old and is the leading cause of disability among Americans aged 65 and older (CDC). Here are some lifestyle recommendation, for managing osteoarthritis.
What are the risk factors for arthritis?
Many people are familiar with arthritis, or joint inflammation. It is called one of the ‘big three’ chronic disease in the world. However, not many people know what the risk factors for arthritis are.
The risk factors for arthritis can be put into three categories: hereditary factors, environmental factors and occupational-related factors.
- Environmental factors. For example, if you live in an area where there is a lot of air pollution or water pollution, then you might have a higher chance of developing arthritis since there are more pollutants in the environment that can cause joint inflammation.
- Occupational-related factors. If you do a lot of heavy lifting or work where your joints are under a lot of stress then these can lead to arthritis. It’s important that you make sure to strengthen your core and incorporate stretching into your daily routine as well as taking care of your body by eating a healthy diet and getting enough sleep. Remember, prevention is key
- Hereditary factors. Your genetics and the condition of your joints may dictate your risk.
- Swollen knees from arthritis. Swollen knees can be caused by arthritis, but they can also occur due to any joint inflammation. The most common treatment for swollen knees is anti-inflammatory medication. There are many different options for this type of drug, so the person should talk to their doctor about which one is right for them.
How to diagnose your arthritis using a medical evaluation and tests
You can diagnose arthritis by getting a medical evaluation and doing some tests.
- Medical evaluation. The best way to know if you have arthritis is to go to the doctor for a medical evaluation. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms, examine the affected joints, and conduct laboratory tests.
- Physical examination. Your doctor will examine you for arthritis by checking for swelling or deformity in the affected joints, changes in skin colour, tenderness when pressing on the joint, restricted movement of the joint, or any other symptoms that you might have mentioned in your history.
- Laboratory testing. The lab can also test your blood to see if its level of inflammation markers are high. These markers are substances found in blood samples
How can you combat arthritis with a healthy mindset?
The mind and body are inextricably linked. The way you think influences the way you feel, and vice versa. Your mindset has a huge impact on your physical health, including how well your immune system functions and how well your joints move.
Here are some tips can help you take care of your mental health to combat arthritis:
- Take care of yourself by practising self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-love.
- Practise mindfulness to reduce stress levels and anxiety.
- Learn to recognise when your thoughts are irrational or unhelpful so that you can replace them with more helpful thoughts.
- Learn how to reframe negative thoughts so they become positive ones instead.
Challenges associated with arthritis and mental health
Mental health is defined as how one feels about themselves, their mental well-being, and the way they think. Mental health conditions are health problems which affect people’s mood or thinking patterns.
People with arthritis are more likely to have depression than those without arthritis. Conversely, people with depression are more likely to have arthritis than those without depression.
Both of these conditions can make it difficult for people to manage their day-to-day lives and contribute to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
What are some treatment for arthritis
There are many ways to treat arthritis, but what’s best for you depends on the severity of your symptoms. For mild arthritis, you may only need to change some of the habits that may be causing it. If your arthritis is more severe, you may need medication or physical therapy.
Adam Mulligan did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health and well-being.