October 12th 2017 is World Arthritis Day and its purpose is to raise awareness of the condition and how it affects the lives of those who suffer from it. As you may well know already, arthritis is a condition that effects the joints and causes significant pain and discomfort, as well as the individuals mobility. One of the most important aspects of helping those with arthritis is by providing an early diagnosis, but why is it so crucial?
Early Diagnosis Makes a Difference
The early symptoms of arthritis are often vague and difficult to discern. Many people experience some form of joint pain and simply brush it off as a minor injury that happened without their knowledge. However, by leaving it unchecked the pain can not only worsen but it could also be related to another underlying condition. For example, the related condition known as fibromyalgia goes undiagnosed in three out of four people for up to five years, leaving them without support or treatment.
In order to improve the promptness of diagnosis it’s important to be aware of what the early signs are. As mentioned previously, many people will experience early symptoms as general joint pain, but if this pain is restrictive and persistent it’s worth visiting your GP. The Arthritis Foundation recommends that symptoms lasting more than three days should be examined.
In addition to joint pain other symptoms can include; swelling, stiffness, redness, and joint warmth. It’s also important to note that a doctor may not diagnosis arthritis on the first examination. Therefore, if you still find that the symptoms persist after the initial examination it is worth returning or getting a second opinion.
Ways to Manage and Treat Arthritis after Diagnosis
Once a diagnosis has been established you can begin to consult with your doctor about how to proceed with the particular arthritic condition you have. It’s important that you find the treatment that works for you as different methods can result in side effects for some individuals. Commonly prescribed treatments include:
- NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) that help reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, these can cause side effects related to the kidneys, liver, heart, and bleeding ulcers.
- Self-treatment may also be recommended in the form of exercise regimes and lifestyle changes.
- DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) are prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis.
For inflammatory types of arthritis – such as rheumatoid arthritis – the earlier you diagnose and begin treatment the better, as these are more likely to cause joint damage that may be disabling. Regardless of which treatment you decide upon it’s imperative that you take the advice of your doctor before starting any course as this will reduce the likelihood of worsening or new health issues.
Living Aids to Help with Arthritis
For those who find they will have to live with the condition the prospect of flare ups stopping you in your tracks is by far the most anxiety inducing aspect. At CareCo we have many arthritis friendly products to help with daily life. Here are just a couple of examples:
Arthritis Friendly Cutlery Set: Standard cutlery is often too narrow and sharp edged for those who suffer from arthritis in their hands. If your grip clamps down it can be painful and even cause injury. These cutlery items have handles designed to be soft to the touch and fitted to the arch of your hand, reducing pressure and pain.
Arthritis Grip Adjustable Cane: Hands aren’t the only joints that can be affected, it can also impair other joints that can affect someone’s ability to walk freely. This cane provides mobility assistance by taking weight off the weakened area, while also having a handle specifically designed for an arthritic grip.