An Arthritis Diagnosis!

An Arthritis diagnosis can evoke a specter of fear and pain but all arthritis  can be helped with the right treatment, diet and exercise.

There are around 10 million people who have received a diagnosis of arthritis in the UK. That’s 10 million individuals, plus their families, each affected in a unique way.

The very words evoke a specter of fear and pain. People think of getting old, being unable to get around, and of becoming more dependent upon others. The terms carry with a sense of hopelessness and futility. But the very opposite should be true. All arthritis and fibromyalgia can be helped.

When I received an arthritis diagnosis I was given the opportunity to attend an "Arthritis Pain Management" Course. It was a couple of hours a week over a six week period and I found it very helpful. I would urge you to go if you have the opportunity.

We were given a book which was called "The Arthritis Helpbook" (Sixth Edition) which is recomended by the Arthritis Foundation and the Arthritis Society. I've found the book invaluable for information on everything you could possibly want to know about arthritis and have lent it to many of my friends. Buy the book for yourself from Amazon.

During the course we looked at

  • The causes and types of Arthritis.
  • We discussed and made a Self Management Plan.
  • We learnt the affects of diet and exercise.
  • We were advised of all the other resources that were available to us.

It's like everything else the more information you have the better you're able to understand and do something to help yourself.

What does an Arthritis Diagnosis mean?

In order to manage your arthritis diagnosis it's necessasry to know a little about it and understand those aches and pains.

In fact arthritis is not just a single disease. There are over 120 kinds of arthritis, all of which have something to do with one or more joints in the body. Even the word arthritis is misleading. The arth- part comes from the Greek work meaning "joint", while -itis means "inflammation or infection". Thus the word arthritis means "inflammation of the joint".

The problem is that, in many kinds of arthritis, the joint is not inflamed. A better definition might be "problems with the joint, or the ligaments, tendons, and muscles near near the joint". "Rheumatism" is a broader term that encompasses all kinds of pain and stiffness in the muscles and joints."

Types of Arthritis

There are two main kinds of Arthritis Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis(RA).

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It usually develops gradually, over time. Several different joints can be affected, but osteoarthritis is most frequently seen in the hands, knees, hips, feet and spine.

Osteoarthritis can be caused by wear and tear on the joints. Quite often athletes, dancers, people who've done a lot of jogging or played football and rugby may suffer joint damage. In women those high heeled shoes you wear all day and every day could cause damage to the feet resulting in osteoarthritis in one or more toe joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an inflammatory disease, mainly affecting joints and tendons. An inflamed joint looks swollen and red, and appears warm to the touch. The disease usually starts in the wrists, hands or feet, and can spread to other joints and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause stiffness, body aching, and fatigue.

The affected joints tend to radiate heat which is caused by increased blood flow that is a feature of the inflammation. People with Rheumatoid Arthritis often describe feeling much as though they have a virus, with fatigue and aching in the muscles, except that, unlike a usual viral illness the condition may persist for many years.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is the most distructive form of arthritis and people can end up severely restricted in their daily lives by the symptoms if they don't get treatment early. At it's worst it can leave people in a wheelchair.

However with an arthritis diagnosis there are a number of powerful drugs available that can be prescribed by your G.P. or Rheumatologist Consultant that will help ease the pain and reduce swelling so that you can carry on a relatively normal life.

There is no known cure for arthritis but it can be helped with treatment, diet and exercise. There is also joint replacement surgery that can help particularly with knees and hips and this usually gives the patient a whole new lease of life.

People tend to think that it is mainly old people that receive an arhtritis diagnosis but it can affect children. In fact it can affect anyone at any age.

Another misconception is that people tend to think that it comes on gradually over a period of time but this is not necessarily the case.

I was given an arthritis diagnosis after I had a virus. One night I went to bed feeling as though I had the flu and when I tried to get out of bed the next morning after a pretty miserable night, I could hardly walk. Every joint in my body had swollen and I couldn't even hold the toothbrush to clean my teeth.

Thankfully that was quickly treated with drugs by my Doctor and a Rheumatologist Consultant. I'm pleased to say that today 10 years on although I suffer a few aches and pains and stiffness on getting out of bed in the morning. It is no worse than friends who've never had an arthritis diagnosis and merely put their aches and pains down to getting older.

I've also heard of cases where an arthritis diagnosis has been given after someone has suffered a severe trauma. But in these cases the symptoms can often disappear completely after a period of time.

The Prognosis (What will happen in the future)

As with many other illnesses an arthritis diagnosis is important as early as possible after symptoms appear. Particularly with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Most G.P.'s usually refer you to a Rheumatologist at your local Hospital where you will be assessed and given one of the many drugs available for the treatment of arthritis. It's important to take the drugs while the symptoms are at their worst to ease the pain and to lessen the damage that can be caused to the joints by Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Once the worst of the symptoms have subsided and they will eventually you can then start experimenting with diet and exercise.

One of the most important things to remember with arthritis is to keep as mobile as possible. Movement and gentle exercise helps prevents the joints from becoming stiff and painful.

Learning how to manage the condition and making a few adjustments to how you do things and what you eat can really help and it is possible to carry on and enjoy life despite the condition.

For further information and resources go to the Arthritis Care Organization website

The website in the United States is excellent and gives the addresses of many arthritis organizations around the world. Remember that websites are accessible for everyone on the internet and you are not limited to your own country.

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