Look around online and there are plenty of funny, relatable memes that have to deal with aging. We all go through it, so it’s an easy way to get a communal laugh. Some of the more popular ones talk about how you know you’re in your late 20s rather than your early 20s and how one sign is that you suddenly wake up with mystery aches. At one point or another we’ve all tweaked our backs or developed a stiff neck in our sleep. That’s completely normal. We’ve developed this idea that pain, including joint pain, is just a natural part of aging. While that is true to some extent, there is a misguided belief that arthritis is part of that.
It’s important to dispel that belief. Arthritis is not a natural part of aging. Everyone doesn’t just develop it when they reach a certain age. In fact, it’s a condition that develops for some people and is actually avoidable in many instances if the proper care is taken. It’s also a more complicated condition than many people realize. There are actually different kinds of arthritis and they have different root causes.
If you’re suffering with increasing joint pain, you have to get it evaluated by a doctor. Don’t just assume you’re getting older. There is joint pain from use that heals and there is arthritis. The latter requires a diagnosis and then a concentrated treatment plan to ensure that you can live your life normally.
It’s important to point out that arthritis and joint pain in general are not the same thing, even though arthritis presents as joint pain. Arthritis is its own condition that eventually brings on symptoms beyond the joint pain we associate with it. This is especially true of rheumatoid arthritis, which carries many complications, and is probably the type of arthritis that is the most troublesome.
Let’s start with rheumatoid arthritis, then, because it’s potentially the most serious and can actually strike at any age. While many associate arthritis with wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis is actually an immune system disorder. As an autoimmune disease, what happens is the body’s natural defenses against viruses or bacteria for some reason begin to turn on a healthy body. This manifests as inflammation, particularly in the joints. Eventually this inflammation destroys cartilage, which makes the pain and instability worse. This damage cannot be reversed. That’s why early intervention is so important. Unchecked, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the rest of the body resulting in organ damage and cardiovascular issues.
Osteoarthritis is the more traditional kind of arthritis that we associate with the wear and tear of aging. This is not related to the immune system. However, you still need to seek treatment because your pain will only increase if it goes without any medical attention. This is the most common type. Lifestyle typically causes this. Things like obesity, injury, overuse, and even genes play a part.
Gout is a type of arthritis, caused by a buildup of uric acid. Many factors can cause high uric acid concentrations in the body. For those with gout, uric acid causes the familiar painful red swelling that we associate with arthritis. It can affect any joint, but it usually presents initially in the big toe.
Joint pain is never something to just accept because arthritis isn’t a normal, age related condition that you can’t treat. It’s quite the opposite. You need treatment in order to preserve your quality of life. This is especially true of rheumatoid arthritis. Early intervention is absolutely critical and an early diagnosis can increase your quality of life tremendously.
Arthritis treatment is unique to each person. It depends on the type of arthritis, where it is in its progression, and your overall health. For example, if your arthritis is a result of your weight, a weight loss regimen will be the initial focus. Natural solutions will be attempted first. Hot and cold treatments are a viable solution for many people. Diet and exercise may also be addressed. A long term management plan based around avoiding symptom flare ups will be key.
If your arthritis has advanced, medication may be prescribed to manage the pain and inflammation. In some instances, surgery ends up getting recommended to address the damage in the joints. Only your doctor can give you the guidance you need.
Arthritis is a condition that needs managed care in order to get the best outcome. Without the proper care, arthritis will get worse and become more debilitating. Speak to a doctor before that happens. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. The team at Pure Medicine is here to provide you with the arthritis care you need so you can live a life as close to pain free as possible.