Don't Let Arthritis Slow You Down

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month and the perfect time to evaluate your bone and joint health. As the leading cause of disability in the United States, arthritis is a widespread and painful disease.

Arthritis affects more than 50 million Americans, or every one in five adults. Arthritis is not limited to adults, as it also affects more than 300,000 babies, kids and teens in the U.S.

“Arthritis affects millions of people in the US,” Orthopaedic Surgeon Dr. Jason Rogers says. “If you suffer from arthritis, It’s important to talk to your doctor so you can create a care plan to help keep your joints healthy and manage your symptoms.”

What is Arthritis?

The most common joint disorder is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. The cartilage allows your joints to move smoothly against each other. In individuals suffering from osteoarthritis, the protective cartilage is worn down so their bones to rub together, causing inflammation and swelling of the joints.

Osteoarthritis affects approximately 15 percent of the world’s population. The condition typically worsens over time, and there is currently no cure.

Achy, Breaky Joints

The most common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and swelling.

Symptoms can also include:

  • Tenderness when pressure is applied
  • Stiffness after inactivity
  • Loss of flexibility
  • A grating sensation
  • Joint deformity

Talk to Your Doctor

Dr. Rogers asks his patients three key questions about their arthritis pain:

  • Do they have pain every day?
  • Does the pain they have limit their ability to do the things they enjoy
  • Does the pain prevent them from sleeping or cause them to wake up at night?

“If they answer yes to two of the following three questions, it’s time to have their joints evaluated by a physician,” says Dr. Rogers.

Take a Walk

Although there is currently no cure for arthritis, healthy habits may aid in managing your symptoms.

A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, like swimming and biking, can reduce the stress on your joints and help strengthen the muscles around them. Weight loss can also help alleviate pain and stress on your joints. If lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications have not relieved the symptoms, individuals are encouraged to ask their doctor about prescription and surgical options.

“The ultimate goal of treatment is to restore a patient’s quality of life, as best we can, so they are able to participate in the activities that make them happy,” says Dr. Rogers. “Symptom control is always  first-line treatment and there are lots of things we can do to postpone doing surgery on patients.”

Harbin Clinic cares completely about the health of your bones and joints. For more information on joint health and symptom management, contact Harbin Clinic Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine Rome at 762-235-2700.