Let’s Talk… Arthritis
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a term given to a group of conditions that affect your joints. Arthritis can affect nearly any joint in your body and usually results in inflammation, pain and stiffness. It can range from mild to severe.
The cause of many arthritis types isn’t fully known.
Who’s at risk of arthritis?
One in six Australians have arthritis. Two out of three of those are aged between 15 and 60 years, so it’s not a condition limited to older people.
Anyone – including young children – can get arthritis. It can affect people from all backgrounds and ages, even if you have a healthy lifestyle.
Are there different types of arthritis?
There are more than 100 types of arthritis. Each type affects you and your joints differently.
The most common types of arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Ankylosing spondylitis
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
Arthritis symptoms differ for everyone.
If you have arthritis, you’ll probably notice some of the most common symptoms in one or more of your joints:
- reduced movement
- redness and warmth
Other general symptoms could include tiredness, weight loss or feeling unwell.
Is there a cure for arthritis?
There’s currently no cure for most types of arthritis. But there are many ways to manage your symptoms so you can get on with doing the things you need to do, and the things you enjoy.
When should I see my GP?
Arthritis can get worse if left untreated. See your GP if you notice symptoms that last more than a few days. That way you can get a diagnosis and begin understanding what type of arthritis you have and how you can best manage it.
Your GP will work with you on a treatment and management plan to help limit the impact on your daily life and to help you stay active and independent.
What are my arthritis treatment options?
Your treatment options will depend on the type of arthritis you have and how it’s affecting you. It’s different for everyone.
Your GP is just one part of the health care team helping you. You might interact with various professionals including chemists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, podiatrists and more. Your GP might also refer you to a specialist rheumatologist.
Treatment options include (in no particular order):
- Pain medication – your GP can help you understand the right medicines for you
- Massage – may temporarily improve pain and mobility
- Acupuncture – an ancient Chinese practice that may help block pain signals
- TENS machine – a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machine may help block pain signals
- Hot and cold therapy – applying heat packs or cold packs may help soothe or numb painful areas (check with your GP or physio first)
There are many other things you can do to help manage your arthritis.
Learning more about your condition can help you feel more in control. Seek out info from your GP.
Regular exercise can be very helpful and a big boost for your sense of wellbeing. Chat with your health care team about how you can best stay active. Understand the optimum balance for you, how you can pace yourself to keep working, keep moving and stay well-rested
While no diet has been proven to cure arthritis, maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pressure on your joints and make it easier for you to exercise regularly. Staying fit and healthy will help you feel stronger and promote a more positive mindset as you manage your arthritis.
Living well with arthritis starts with diagnosis and a supportive management plan designed just for you. Ready to start planning for a healthier life? Book online to see your Caroline Springs GP consulting from Active Medical or call 03 9363 0954.
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