Senior Veteran (female)
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: O Hi O
But I'm too young to have Arthritis!
Here's a little "mini" guide I wrote up for some of the more common questions. It doesn't cover everything and is by no means extensive. For specific questions feel free to post, I'm very sure someone here is happy to oblige in an answer. Also, don't forget to search the forum there's some real gems of information tucked away inside some of the post here.
Feel free to add more information. Obviously I'm not real attuned to Rheumatoid arthritis but I know many of you suffer from it. I'm far more enlightened with Osteo.
I hope that this will have helped at least one of you new to arthritis.
But I'm too young to have arthritis ...
I hear this a lot, especially from those newly diagnosed with Osteoarthritis, a disease of the joints caused by trauma or injury of time.
The truth of the matter is you can get arthritis at any time at any age.
Arthritis knows no age limits! It is no longer the "old mans disease"
Did you know there are more than 100 different types of Arthritis recognized by the Arthritis Assocation and that at least 70 million people suffer from it every day?
Several types of arthritis are genetic, meaning someone in your family lineage has to of had it somewhere in time. Others can be a result of a traumatic life alterting experience such as Fibromyalgia or an accident or surgery which is the case of Osteoarthritis.
Some forms of arthritis can have minimal implications in your life or lifestyle while others can be fatal. Knowing what type of arthritis you have is important in getting the proper treatment.
General symptoms of arthritis includes, but is not limited to: painful stiff joints, difficulty ambulating (moving) and redness and swelling of a joint. Each various type of arthritis will have their own set of different symptoms such as Fibromyalgia which is generalized pain in various parts of the body.
Of the various types the most common types are Rhuematiod and Osteo. Ironically Rhuematiod arthritis ironically affects more women than men.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease where that the cartilage of the joit deteriorates over time causing pain and sometimes loss of motion. It is in fact characterized by mild to extreme pain, your joint feeling hot and possibly even looking red, swelling and of course painful movement or even lose of use.
As mentioned before, Osteo is often caused by an old injury or even a surgery to that specific joint. Weight and even activity can be a factor. If you are a very sports like individual chances are you may have Osteo in your later years in life. Those who are obese are often diagnosed with Osteo of the hip, back and knees at a much earlier stage in life.
When severe enough, joint replacements are often done to eleviate the arthritis joint, primarily the hips, knees and shoulders. Sometimes age and weight can be a fact in determining wether or not you qualify for a full replacement. Doctors are doing partial replacements on knees currently in which you heal much quicker than a full replacement when the joint is stable enough.
Cartilage replacements is something newer that doctors are still working on to perfect. One such type is actually regrowing your own cartilage outside of your body and then putting it back into the joint that is affected.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the joint lining becomes inflamed as part of the bodyís immune system activity. It is genetic and inherited from someone in your family be it many generations back.
It is one of the most serious forms of arthritis and is often detected in women and a young age, sometimes with an acute onset.
Some, but not nearly all, of the symptoms are:
Fatigue, stiffness (particularly in the morning and when sitting for long periods of time), Weakness, flu-like symptoms with a low-grade fever.
The more progressed your disease is the more severe your symptoms can be.
There are three basic stages to Rhuematoid Arthritis:
Stage 1: swelling of the synovial lining, causing pain, warmth, stiffness, redness and swelling around the joint.
Stage 2: The rapid division and growth of cells, or pannus, which causes the synovium to thicken.
Stage 3: The inflamed cells release enzymes that may digest bone and cartilage, often causing the involved joint to lose its shape and alignment, more pain, and loss of movement.
Treatment of arthritis will vary by type of arthritis. Generally speaking an anti-imflamatory of some sort is often prescribed to control imflamation. These can be steriodal or non-steriodal in form. They all have their benefits and draw backs. Always do research and ask questions about medications prescribed and always report any unusual side effects, especially those involving your stomache or bowels.
Non impact exercises such as water therapy can be very benificial to keeping your joints moving and your weight down. Weight plays a huge factor when it comes to arthritis of the back, knees and hips. It also helps to keep your cardio and your muscles in good shape which is very important should you ever need a joint replacement sometime down the road.
When anti-imflamatories and other non evasive methods have been tried such as therapy, biofeedback, mediation and the like but it is not effect doctors may then prescribe mild pain medication to eleviate some of the pain if a replacement is not an option. Doctors will rarely give you pain medication right from the start as often times this is not always needed and it can cause further issue down the road if your pain becomes more severe and your medications will need to be increased.
Don't be afraid to use assistive devices if they help. I find that my shiny new 2 wheeled walker is my best friend. It helps me ambulate with much less pain. Canes are a very good option but be sure to remember to use it on the opposite side of the pain. When possible have a therapist, doctor or nurse show you the proper way to use such devices to get full benefit.
Wheelchairs are a good option but often used for more advanced stages, becoming dependant on a wheelchair when your arthritis is not advanced can lead to some muscle deterioration or weakness. You will know when it is time for a wheelchair, your body will definately give you signs. If you feel a chair would benefit you do discuss it with your doctor first and let him or her know why you feel it's time.
For those who are into a more alternative approach there are many key benefits of herbs and vitamins when used properly. One thing you must be aware of is always tell your doctor, especially if you have to have surgery, what vitamins/supplements and minerals you use or take daily. Some supplements do cause excess bleeding during surgery.
Here is a small sampling of natural supplements/herbs known to help:
Note: before trying any of these items be sure to research it or ask questions, some do have serious side effects if taken improperly or do not mix with certain medications.
Vitamin C in at least a dose of 1200mg per day is beneficial to the knee in helping to heal the cartilage and collagen. It has been proven by the AA to increase the time before a knee replacement is needed by 50%.
Pineapple - bromelian is an enzyme found in pineapple juice that breaks down protein. Decrease pain and swelling of RA and OA, increase mobility.
Dosage: Tablets; 80 mg to 320 mg, two or three times per day for eight to 10 days or as needed for more than 10 days.
Chondroitin Sulfate - 1,200 mg daily in two doses.
Reduces pain and inflammation, improve joint function and slow disease progression.
Fish Oils - Oil from cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, herring, tuna, halibut and cod liver. 3 grams EPA/DHA - the active ingredient in omega-3 fatty acids - daily.
Fight inflammation, lessen fatigue and reduce morning stiffness. Treat RA, lupus, psoriasis, depression and Raynaud's syndrome. DHA is important for brain function and may inhibit RA development.
Ginger - 225 mg twice daily.
Decrease joint pain and reduce inflammation in people with OA and RA. Protect stomach from ulcers and damaging gastrointestinal effects of NSAIDs.
Valerianan - 300 mg to 500 mg of valerian extract daily (maximum dose is 15 grams of root per day); one cup of tea taken several times a day. Tea is made by steeping 2 grams to 3 grams of dried root in boiling water for five to 10 minutes.
Treats insomnia and ease muscle and joint pain.
Valerian works as a mild sedative and sleep agent. No known effects on muscle or joint pain and arthritis.
If you believe you may have arthritis please see your general practitioner. Most forms of arthritis can be detected by a simple bloodtest. Fibromyalgia is the one exception which is diagnosed by ruling out everything else first and a certain set of symptoms.
Last edited by Kissa; 01-08-2005 at 10:38 PM.