The Warning Signs of Arthritis

By: Matthew Hick

Most people associate painful and swollen joints with arthritis, but did you know that extreme fatigue, an all-around achy feeling, and a low-grade fever may be symptoms of arthritis as well?

With more than 100 different types of arthritis afflicting people all over the world, the symptoms of this debilitating disease can vary considerably - sometimes making it difficult to diagnosis right away.

If you suspect arthritis is the cause of your discomfort, what warning signs should you be looking for? According to the National Arthritis Foundation here are a few of the most common complaints:

Pain that persists with no real reason due to injury or stress.

Swelling of one or more joints (may be sudden or long-lasting).

Stiffness making it difficult to move one or more joints, especially in the morning, or after a long period of rest.

Difficulty moving one or more joints; tenderness in the joints that is aggravated by movement (walking, getting up from a chair, typing, holding an object for a long period of time, etc), may all signal an arthritic condition.

Joint Deformity - Once the disease has begun to progress, patients often report forms of joint deformity, especially in the hands. Bumps or nodules may also appear on joints in the legs, arms, shoulder, etc., although these in themselves are not painful.

Loss of Motor Range - This can be severe, or gradual, depending on the severity of the disease, and how long it has gone untreated.

Unexpected Weight Loss.

Extreme Fatigue - a lack of energy, weakness and a general unwell feeling of malaise

Non-Specific Fever (usually lo grade)

These are common symptoms of arthritis, and if you've experienced one or more of these for longer than two weeks, it is time to see a doctor. Your first stop should be your family practitioner, followed by a referral to a rheumatologist if arthritis is indeed a possibility, in order to form the best treatment regiment possible.

Taking Charge of Your Arthritis:
Once you've been diagnosed with arthritis, it's time to take care of your disease to prevent it from getting worse. Here are a few things you can do right away to lesson its symptoms and continue to live an active lifestyle despite its symptoms:

-Eat a well-balanced diet: many arthritis patients make the mistake of skipping meals or eating the wrong types of foods when flare-ups pop up and preparing good quality meals becomes difficult. This is not the time to scrimp on nutrition. Eat a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and protein to keep your muscles and bones strong, and keep you healthy.

-Exercise Regularly. I may seem like exercise will become a thing of the past once you've been diagnosed with arthritis, but it's more important than ever now. Exercise will help keep joints from stiffening; bones and muscles strong; fatigue and depression under control; and give you an overall felling of health and well being. It's great for flexibility and motor range too. Check with your doctor or physical therapist for a list of exercises that are best for you.

-Take Preventative Medications Regularly. Many physicians are now prescribing preventative or maintenance medications to help keep symptoms at bay. Be sure to take these drugs even when you are feeling good to prevent a flare-up.

It is true, arthritis is a chronic disease with no real cure, but it manageable, and can be treated in most patients, in order to give them a better chance of living a normal life - even after diagnosis.

Rheumatology
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