Getting a Grip on Arthritis
If you experience joint discomfort, swelling, or stiffness, you might suspect arthritis. But what exactly is it? The 2 most common types are rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and while they have different causes, their symptoms overlap. If the signs ring a bell, it might be time to see a doctor about those nagging aches and pains.
Osteoarthritis occurs when joint-cushioning cartilage deteriorates, caused by aging — it’s rare in people under 40 — heredity, injury, obesity, and muscle weakness. And, for unknown reasons, women are more likely to suffer from the disease than men. Symptoms include:
Pain when using joints
Tenderness in response to light pressure
Difficulty grasping or manipulating objects
Stiffness after waking up or after inactivity
Grating sensation or bone spurs in the affected area.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. Many of the signs are similar to osteoarthritis, and it can be accompanied by redness, swelling, fatigue, fever, and weight loss. While this form, too, is more common in women and those over 40, children can also display the symptoms — there are almost 300,000 cases of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis in the US.