Living with Arthritis

This is the third and final part to series on arthritis. Besides medications, diet and exercise, there are other approaches for arthritis.

In some cases, surgery to rebuild the joint (arthroplasty) or to replace the joint such as a total knee joint replacement may help to maintain a more normal lifestyle. The decision to perform joint replacement surgery is normally made when other alternatives, such as lifestyle changes and medications, are no longer effective.

Normal joints contain a lubricant called synovial fluid. In joints with arthritis, this fluid is not produced in adequate amounts. In some cases, a doctor may inject the arthritic joint with a man-made version of joint fluid. The synthetic fluid may postpone the need for surgery at least temporarily and improve the quality of life for persons with arthritis.

A few arthritis-related disorders can be completely cured with treatment while most other arthritic disorders are chronic (long-term) conditions; however, the goal of treatment is to control the pain and minimize the joint damage. Chronic arthritis frequently goes in and out of remission.

Complications resulting from arthritis are chronic pain and lifestyle restrictions or disability.

Call a doctor if:

  • Your joint pain persists beyond 3 days
  • You have severe unexplained joint pain
  • The affected joint is significantly swollen
  • You have a hard time moving the joint
  • Your skin around the joint is red or hot to the touch
  • You have a fever or have lost weight unintentionally

If arthritis is diagnosed and treated early, joint damage can be prevented. It’s important to find out if you have a family history of arthritis; share this information with your doctor, even if you have no symptoms. Osteoarthritis may be more likely to develop if you abuse your joints (injure them many times or over-use while injured). Be careful not to overwork a damaged or sore joint and avoid excessive repetitive motions as well. Excess weight could also increase the risk for developing osteoarthritis in the knees and possibly in the hips. Know your body mass index to learn if your weight is healthy.

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