What exactly is Arthritis?
A normal healthy joint has a rubbery substance called cartilage that covers the end of each bone and provides a smooth slippery surface against which the joints move. It also acts as a shock absorber to reduce the impact of everyday physical activity. However with arthritis, the joints are swollen and stiff, and there is often joint deformity, pain, redness and heat. There are more than 140 different forms of arthritis, the most common are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
In osteoarthritis (OA) changes in the joints cause the cartilage to break down. Large weight-bearing joints, like hips, knees and spines, are affected the most. OA comes on gradually, over many years, and being overweight can lead to osteoarthritis because of the added pressure on the joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an auto-immune disease, which means the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The joint lining becomes inflamed and swollen and fluid builds up in the joint cavity. In severe RA, the joints become deformed - affecting people’s ability to move. RA symptoms tend to develop more quickly than with OA and the disease occurs more in younger people, most commonly between the ages of 30 and 55.
Managing your arthritis
Lifestyle modifications – such as weight loss, exercise and physical therapy - are core components of OA management. Medicines are the cornerstone of RA management, however a good balance between rest and exercise is also important.
How we can help
“Although there is no cure for arthritis, a wide range of effective medicines are available to treat the swelling and pain, and for modifying the course of the disease (in the case of RA),” advises Clive. “Some medicines are available only on prescription; some need our recommendation before they can be sold. Remember to always talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you take for arthritis, so you are taking the best one for your condition and not doubling-up. The main thing is not to suffer in silence. There is help available.”
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