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May is Arthritis Awareness Month

Arthritis is most commonly associated in our collective mindsets with the aching joints of our most senior citizens. So you wouldn’t think that a young, healthy male or female, should have any concerns with regard to such an affliction. At least you wouldn’t have thought about that until one of the most famous tennis players in the world, Caroline Wozniacki, publicly stated that she is afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis. A 28 year old successful athlete with this condition? How could it be? This is actually more common than you would like to believe. And the stats go to support this claim.

What is arthritis and how to spot the signs

Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, a breakdown of the cartilage tissue that naturally protects them. The condition is often degenerative, meaning that although it can be partially kept under control with medication, it is likely to get worse in time. According to the CDC, most types of arthritis can’t be cured, but it is stressed out that the earlier the diagnosis and the start of a management plan for this condition, the better chance there is of minimizing the damage. This is why raising awareness about it is important.

Now that we know that arthritis can affect all of us, we should be aware of the symptoms that may suggest there is a problem. Most signs of arthritis are what you would expect: joint pain, swelling, sensitivity, redness or warmth. But be aware that fatigue is another very common symptom. Also, if the joint aches or inflammations are symmetrical (same spots on both wrists or ankles, for example), then there is a higher chance that you are dealing with arthritis.

Arthritis stats and facts

According to arthritis.org, about 54 million adults in the U.S. suffer from doctor-diagnosed arthritis. That is roughly 20% of adults of all ages. Almost two thirds of these individuals are between 18 and 64 years of age. The most common affliction is osteoarthritis, which is more likely to be experienced by women during their lifetime. According to the same source, arthritis does not exclude children and babies from its’ target. 300,000 babies and children suffer from this condition or a similar rheumatic condition.

What causes arthritis?

There is no definitive answer to that question but it has been proved that the affliction has a higher prevalence in individuals that also suffer from heart conditions, diabetes or obesity. It has also been stated that certain injuries or infections can favor the appearance of arthritis. Of course, there is also the genetic factor that plays a part in the onset of this condition.

What can you do about it?

As always, it is better to detect the disease in advance and follow proper treatment as soon as possible. The treatment prescribed has the purpose to relieve the symptoms. Common medication for this are anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics.

Don’t dismiss or neglect the signs of arthritis at any age and ask the advice of a doctor if you experience joint pain. Get to the nearest urgent care, walk-in clinic, emergency room or any care center focused on ambulatory care and describe your symptoms to an available physician.

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