There are pain syndromes like fibromyalgia and arthritis-related disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, that involve every part of the body. There are relatively mild forms of tendinitis (as in 'tennis elbow') and bursitis to crippling systemic forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis. There are forms of the disease, such as gout, which almost nobody connects with this condition, and there are other conditions - like osteoarthritis, the misnamed 'wear and tear' arthritis - that a good many people think is the only form of the disease.
How do you know if you have arthritis? While symptoms and severity vary from person to person, the most common symptoms are: pain, swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness and warmth. Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive stiffness without swelling, chills or fever.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the painful swelling, inflammation and stiffness in the fingers, arms, legs and wrists, which are prevalent on both sides of the body and are usually worse in the morning. Children with on-off fever, loss of appetite, weight loss and a blotchy rash on the arms and legs might have juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. You should call the doctor if symptoms appear suddenly, or if they are accompanied by a fever or rash.
There are several common misconceptions about arthritis. Myth # 1 is that every day is the same for patients. In reality, this form of chronic pain comes and goes, which makes it difficult for diagnosis. Myth # 2 is that only older people have arthritis. However, in some cases, even children have this type of pain. Myth # 3 is that arthritis is caused by cold, wet weather or a poor diet.
In reality, there are no easy cause-and-effect connections, but contributing factors include: age, weight, anatomy, infection of the joint and trauma. Lastly, some believe that joint replacement surgery (arthroplasty) should be avoided for as long as possible. Yet the surgery has helped millions of Americans and is seen as a viable option when exercise, physical therapy and medication fail.
For treatment, Methotrexate slows the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and restores some function. For osteoarthritis sufferers, NSAIDs like ibuprofen are good at relieving short term pain and stiffness. Disease modifiers like Methotrexate, Leflunomide, Adalimumab, Etanercept or Infliximab can help long term effects and reduce joint damage.
For people with gout, NSAIDs, Corticosteroids, Allopurinol and Probenecid are effective drugs. Be sure to see your doctor if you have been suffering with any symptom of chronic pain.