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We all know the feeling: We climb out of bed one morning and feel stiff all over. Our joints ache and, in some places, feel especially tender and sore. Joint pain is a common complaint. But, how do you know if the soreness you’re feeling is from overdoing it the day before or a sign of a more chronic condition – like arthritis?
For many Americans, managing arthritis is part of daily life. More than 54 million people have been formally diagnosed with the chronic condition, and those numbers are expected to climb. 78 million Americans are expected to be diagnosed with arthritis by 2040. But there is hope on the horizon.
Understanding arthritis, and its signs and symptoms, is the first step toward getting the relief you need to start feeling your best.
What is Arthritis?
The term arthritis refers to inflammation in your joints. Only one joint may be affected, or you could have several joints with arthritis. Not all forms of arthritis are the same. In fact, there are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related diseases. The most common arthritis diagnoses include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Osteoarthritis most commonly affects joints in the hands, hips and knees. It’s a degenerative joint disease, which refers to the natural wear and tear of cartilage that connects and cushions your bones.
Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include:
- Gradually worsening of symptoms over time
- Pain, stiffness and swelling at the joint
- Reduced range of motion or function
Several factors may increase your risk of developing osteoarthritis, including:
- Family history
- Injury or overuse
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack healthy cells in your body. This causes painful inflammation in affected parts of the body. RA most commonly impacts joints in the hands, wrists and knees.
Symptoms of RA include:
- Pain, stiffness and tenderness in more than one joint
- Symptoms affect joints on both sides of the body
- Weight loss
Risk factors of RA include:
- Gender (women are more likely to be diagnosed with RA)
Psoriatic arthritis mostly affects individuals with psoriasis. It’s an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack healthy cartilage, causing pain and swelling in the joints.
Symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Foot pain
- Lower back pain
- Swollen fingers and toes
Risk factors of psoriatic arthritis include:
- Family history
- History of psoriasis
Is it Arthritis or Just Achy Joints?
It can still be difficult to know if the pain you’re experiencing is from arthritis, an awkward move or overdoing it around the house. Keep in mind arthritis is a chronic condition and won’t go away after a few days or weeks.
If you’re experiencing joint pain that’s interfering with your daily activities and doesn’t go away with rest or at-home care, contact your doctor. Your AdventHealth primary care provider can work with you to diagnosis arthritis or identify another condition that may be causing your pain, and connect you with a range of specialists all focused on one thing: your whole health.