The month of May is Arthritis Awareness Month,bringing attention to a disease that affects over 53 million people in the United States. Arthritis is a progressive disease that wreaks havoc on the body and is diagnosed as either Inflammatory Arthritis or Osteoarthritis. Inflammatory Arthritis is the umbrella term for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Lupus or Gout, all being autoimmune disorders. Inflammatory arthritis can become symptomatic at any age. Osteoarthritis is non-inflammatory, caused by the cartilage in a joint physically wearing down due to wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis most commonly associated with aging; however, it is not exclusive to seniors, and symptoms can begin at any age.
Early warning signs of osteoarthritis
- Joint stiffness, typically in the knee or fingers/hands as a result of the cartilage slowly eroding.
- Tenderness and pain of the joints as the decay of cartilage continues.
- Loss of motion/flexibility occurs as the osteoarthritis progresses and the cartilage is almost gone.
- Bone spurs occur as the body tries to replace lost cartilage and protect ligaments and muscles from further damage.
- Swelling occurs when the cartilage is gone or nearly gone, causing surrounding muscles to become strained and inflamed.
Early warning signs of inflammatory arthritis by diagnosis
- Fatigue that never seems to end.
- Weight loss that is not planned.
- Low grade fever that comes and goes without explanation.
- Redness of the affected joint.
- Pain in more than one joint that is accompanied by swelling.
- Symptoms first appear in a big toe with swelling and pain that has been described as unbearable.
- Redness of the joints as blood flow increases to the site responding to a perceived invader.
- Inflammation and swelling of affected joints as they are attacked by the autoimmune system.
- Limited range of joint motion as a result of the swelling.
- Intense joint pain in other affected joints.
- Never-ending fatigue, which is the body’s protective response to inflammation and pain.
- Low-grade, unexplained fever, signaling that there is an infection in the body.
- Skin rash or lesions, from which hair loss can result. They typically occur on the face and scalp.
- Painful, swollen joints.
- Dry mouth and dry eyes frequently signal Lupus as the salivary glands and tear ducts are impacted by lymphocytes rushing to fend off a perceived intruder.
- Joint pain or stiffness accompanied by swelling. Joints feel warm to the touch.
- Pitted and separated nails frequently appear due to capillary inflammation.
- Lower back pain is an indicator that the kidneys are being included in the autoimmune response.
- Swollen fingers or toes and pain in the feet indicate kidney involvement as well.
- Eye inflammation, which results from improper vascular flow.
Champion Home Health recommends that patients follow their doctor’s treatment plans following a diagnosis of osteoarthritis or one of the inflammatory arthritis types. Progression of any arthritis when left untreated will eventually restrict flexibility, mobility and result in chronic pain. We offer many services that provide patient support for those diagnosed with arthritis. Call us to discuss care options at 321-608-3838.