What Is Arthritis, Anyway? Understanding the Early Signs
Did you know that over 54 million American adults have arthritis?
This is, indeed, a very common disease, and it can cause quite a lot of pain and discomfort. In severe cases, it can have an even bigger impact on one's quality of life, limiting their ability to do regular day-to-day activities and to keep working.
That's why, if your joints have been hurting, it's important that you understand the answers to some of the most essential questions about the disease.
What is arthritis? What are its early signs? What should you do if you're experiencing them?
Keep reading to learn everything!
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis refers to the inflammation and swelling of one or several of your joints, and it can be of several types, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Reactive arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Septic arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis
Although each of these types of arthritis has its own causes and symptoms, there are four signs that tend to appear during the initial stages and that are common to all of them:
Your Joints Feel Stiff, Hurt, and Are Swollen
Arthritis damages your joints, so it's no surprise that three of the main symptoms are joint stiffness, pain, and swelling.
The first sign to appear is the stiffness, and it typically begins in your hands, although over time, it can spread to other areas. After that, the joints become tender and, as the inflammation progresses, they can get swollen and red for days or weeks in a row.
You Wake Up Feeling Stiff
Morning stiffness is another common early sign of arthritis and, depending on how advanced the disease is (and which type you're suffering from), you can experience it for minutes or hours after you wake up.
This happens because your body was inactive for a long period of time, which is why you might also feel it after you've been sitting or laying down on the sofa for too long.
Your Range of Motion Has Decreased
As the inflammation in your joints evolves, not only will you feel more pain, but your ligaments and tendons will also get deformed and, because of that, you'll slowly lose the ability to make certain movements.
This might lead you to adopt a more sedentary lifestyle and, consequently, lose muscle and gain weight.
As such, it's important that you commit to doing some gentle exercise on a regular basis.
You Feel Fatigued
Lastly, arthritis can make you feel constantly tired and, in severe cases, it can even cause feelings of depression.
This symptom usually emerges before the actual physical pain and it typically comes and goes for a few weeks or months.
What to Do If You're Experiencing These Symptoms
If after reading the answers to "What is arthritis?" and "What are some of its early signs?", you realized that you might have it, it's important that you seek medical help.
By getting a proper diagnosis early on, you can find relief and learn how to deal with the disorder before it gets worse.
Get in touch with us and schedule an appointment today!