Many people believe that arthritis is a single disease but, in reality, it is a term used to refer to joint pain, or various types of disease that affect the body's joints. Researchers believe that there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, and it is estimated that more than 50 million adults suffer from some form of arthritis. One of the most common types is known as osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis. This occurs when the cushioning tissue at the ends of the bones becomes worn, allowing the bones to make contact during normal movement. This can lead to inflammation, pain and further damage to the joint. Another common type of arthritis is known as inflammatory, or rheumatoid arthritis. This type is caused when the body's immune system is improperly activated, leading to undue inflammation within the joints.
When a patient presents joint pain, his or her physician will screen for arthritis. Diagnosis begins with a thorough physical examination, in combination with a health history. In some cases, imaging scans and blood work can be used to determine if arthritis is present, and if so, what type of arthritis is causing discomfort or pain. That gives the physician the information needed to determine a course of treatment.
Fortunately, there are a number of different treatments that can help patients manage the symptoms of their arthritis. A wide range of prescription medications can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. There are also a number of topical creams and ointments that can assist with pain and discomfort. Physical therapy is also a powerful means of addressing arthritis pain and can improve the patient's muscle strength and range of motion related to the affected joints. No two people will have the exact same set of symptoms or needs when it comes to arthritis care, which is why each and every patient is given a customized treatment plan that is created to address the type of arthritis they are suffering from.
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