What is Arthritis?
Arthritis and rheumatism refer to problems with the joints and their surrounding soft tissues such as the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Pain and stiffness originating from these structures are very common and affect people of all ages for a variety of reasons. Joint problems are one of the most common reasons for visiting a doctor. Nearly 50% of people over the age of 65 complain of discomfort. For many this can be burdensome or even disabling limiting mobility and threatening independence in the home.
There are many different forms of the condition, the most common being osteoarthritis, which becomes more common with age. While it is often referred to as wear and tear arthritis or degenerative arthritis, age is not the entire cause. Previous injuries, obesity, and a family history of the disease can also contribute.
Rheumatoid arthritis is something entirely different and is caused by severe inflammation of the moving joints. It can occur at any age, but mainly after the teenage years. It can affect not only joints but also other parts of the body. Rheumatoid is usually treated by hospital specialists with stronger and more far-reaching medications.
There are also other related conditions, such as gout and other inflammatory diseases, that are similar to rheumatoid arthritis but have different characteristics.
Often, the symptoms of pain, swelling, and stiffness will suggest arthritis, although not the exact type. A detailed description of your symptoms, along with a physical exam, blood tests, X-rays, and scans, will be used to determine the type of arthritis and suggest the best treatment.
Treatment usually consists of lifestyle adjustments, medications, physiotherapy, supplemental medicines, weight normalisation and sometimes surgery.
Living with Arthritis
Exercise, strengthening the muscles, and protecting your joints are important. Few of the two hundred or so types of arthritis can actually be cured, but there are a variety of support services available to help people stay mobile and independent.
These include the Telecare24 Careline Service, the UK’s leading careline service, which uses its dedicated pendants to keep you in touch with highly trained staff around the clock, offering very fast response times to keep you in touch with friends and family or emergency services when needed. Ideal for anyone who is at risk of falling, suffering from a short-term illness, has just returned home from the hospital, has a physical disability, or simply needs reassurance that someone is nearby. The Telecare24 service comes highly recommended.
Organisations that offer Support for Arthritis Patients
Versus Arthritis is the UK’s largest charity dedicated to supporting people with arthritis. It was launched in September 2018, after the two leading UK arthritis charities, Arthritis Research UK and Arthritis Care, merged in November 2017. If you need support, they can be contacted by phone at 0800 5200 520 (Monday–Friday, 9am–6pm) or by email at [email protected].
The National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society also provides very good information in this particular form of arthritis. Their hotline at 0800 2987650 is available Monday-Friday, 9:30am-4:30pm. Their team has access to medical advisors, consultants, and nurses. They can also be contacted via email at [email protected].
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