Understanding Your Arthritis Symptoms

The word "arthritis" is defined by joint inflammation, and is characterized by swelling, stiffness and pain. While there are about 100 diseases that fall under the umbrella of arthritis, two of the most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Arthritis symptoms of these two variations of the disease include joint and muscle pain and stiffness, and difficulty using the affected joints. Sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis will also have issues with fatigue, loss of appetite and low-grade fevers. Rheumatoid arthritis can also affect other parts of the body besides the joints, such as the skin, heart or lungs.

The difference in the arthritis symptoms of these two diseases has to do with the cause of the illness. Osteoarthritis is the result of wear and tear on the joints through years of use or intense activity, such as with a professional athlete. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is caused by the body's immune system attacking its own joints and surrounding tissues, resulting in painful inflammation and swelling. Since the immune system can also turn on organs and other parts of the body, rheumatoid arthritis can affect other areas as well.

Treating Arthritis Symptoms

There is no known cure for arthritis, but treatment of arthritis symptoms begins with understanding the reason for your symptoms so that you can address them at the cause. In the case of rheumatoid arthritis this can be particularly important, since treatment can and should include methods to reduce the joint damage that is caused by the disease as well as effective pain management. Often the first course of treatment will be medication for pain management, and this can vary depending on the severity of the pain that accompanies the arthritis symptoms. In some instances, an over-the-counter pain medication that includes an anti-inflammatory will be sufficient. These include ibuprofen like Advil, or naproxen that is found in pills like Aleve. At other times, your doctor may need to give you a prescription for a pain medication that will be more effective.

Once you have successfully managed the pain of your arthritis symptoms, you can begin work on reducing the symptoms through a regular exercise program. Your workout routine should include range-of-motion exercises, as well as strengthening and endurance work. Always check with your doctor before starting any type of exercise regimen to treat your arthritis symptoms. It is also a good idea to find a personal trainer who has had experience working with arthritis patients.

Arthritis symptoms can be painful and difficult to cope with. Fortunately, there are options available to arthritis sufferers that can help reduce the pain associated with arthritis and improve the quality of life and activity for many.