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Arthritis means joint inflammation, but the term is used to describe around 200 conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround the joint and other connective tissue. It is a rheumatic condition.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Other common rheumatic conditions related to arthritis include gout, fibromyalgia, and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
Rheumatic conditions tend to involve pain, aching, stiffness, and swelling in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body. Some forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus (SLE), can affect multiple organs and cause widespread symptoms.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 54.4 million adults in the United States have received a diagnosis of some form of arthritis. Of these, 23.7 million people have their activity curtailed in some way by their condition. Arthritis is more common among adults aged 65 years or older, but it can affect people of all ages, including children.
Here are some key points about arthritis. More detail is in the main article.
Treatment aims to control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain quality of life. It involves medications, physical therapies, and patient education and support. Treatment for arthritis aims to control pain, minimize joint damage, and improve or maintain function and quality of life. A range of medications and lifestyle strategies can help achieve this and protect joints from further damage.
A healthful, balanced diet with appropriate exercise, avoiding smoking, and not drinking excess alcohol can help people with arthritis maintain their overall health.
There is no specific diet that treats arthritis, but some types of food may help reduce inflammation.
The following foods, found in a Mediterranean diet can provide many nutrients that are good for joint health:
There are some foods that people with arthritis may want to avoid. Nightshade vegetables (such as eggplant, peppers, potatoes), contain a chemical called solanine that some studies have linked with arthritis pain. Research findings are mixed when it comes to these vegetables, but some people have reported a reduction in arthritis symptoms when avoiding nightshade vegetables.
Self-management of arthritis symptoms
Key strategies include:
Being organized: Keep track of symptoms pain levels, medication and possible side effects for consultations with your doctor.
Managing pain and fatigue: A medication regimen can be combined with non-medical pain management. Learning to manage fatigue is the key to living comfortably with arthritis.
Stay active: Exercise is beneficial for managing arthritis and overall health.
Balancing activity with rest: in addition to remaining active, rest is equally important when your disease is active.
Eating healthy diet: A balanced diet can help you achieve a healthy weight and control inflammation. Avoid refined, processed foods and pro-inflammatory animal-derived foods and choose whole plant foods that are high in antioxidants and that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Improving sleep: Poor sleep can aggravate arthritis pain and fatigue. Take steps to improve sleep hygiene so you find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Avoid caffeine and strenuous exercise in the evenings and restrict screen-time just before sleeping.
Care for joints: Do not sit in the same position for long time. Take regular breaks to keep mobile.