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Many are often taken aback to discover that "arthritis" isn't a specific diagnosis but rather a broad term encompassing over 100 diseases and related conditions. Determining the exact type of arthritis or related condition you may have is crucial to obtaining the most suitable treatment and care for your needs.
Certain arthritis forms necessitate immediate attention. If your arthritis type has the potential to result in lasting joint damage, seeking treatment sooner rather than later can be beneficial in maintaining joint health and avoiding other significant health concerns.
Conversely, occasional or mild joint discomfort might not demand an immediate doctor's appointment. Though discussing your joint health and potential risks associated with arthritis with your physician is always recommended, you might choose to address it during your forthcoming routine visit.
When It's a Good Time to Consult a Doctor
Keep an eye out for these possible indications of arthritis:
Discomfort, swelling, or rigidity in any of your joints.
Joints appear reddish or feel warm.
Sensitivity or stiffness in the joints.
Challenges with joint movement or in carrying out daily tasks.
Any joint symptoms that seem unusual to you.
If you notice any of the below, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor:
Persistent joint symptoms for three days or longer.
Multiple occurrences of joint symptoms in a month.
Choosing the Right Health Care Provider for Your Needs
If you're experiencing joint discomfort that's worrisome, it's recommended to start with a visit to a primary care doctor. However, arthritis can sometimes be a challenge to pinpoint. In such cases, a rheumatologist, who specializes in arthritis and conditions affecting bones, muscles, and joints, can provide a more in-depth diagnosis and treatment. For degenerative arthritis concerns, an orthopedist might be the best specialist to consult.
After Being Diagnosed with Arthritis
Once diagnosed, a knowledgeable nurse educator or healthcare professional familiar with arthritis will guide you through your medication regimen and daily management strategies. They're also here to connect you with valuable resources like those from the Arthritis Foundation, which offers insights on arthritis-related living and community support.
In the United States, 23% of all adults, or more than 54 million people, have arthritis. It is a leading cause of work disability, with annual costs for medical care and lost earnings of $303.5 billion.
Sixty percent of US adults with arthritis are of working age (18 to 64 years). Arthritis can limit the type of work they are able to do or keep them from working at all.
In fact, 8 million working-age adults report that their ability to work is limited because of their arthritis. For example, they may have a hard time climbing stairs or walking from a parking deck to their workplace.
Be active. Physical activity—such as walking, bicycling, and swimming—decreases arthritis pain and improves function, mood, and quality of life. Adults with arthritis should move more and sit less throughout the day. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week is recommended.
Protect your joints. People can help prevent osteoarthritis by avoiding activities that are more likely to cause joint injuries.
Talk with a doctor. Recommendations from health care providers can motivate people to be physically active and join a self-management education program. Should your arthritis be interfering with your activities of daily living you may be a candidate to receive many new treatments, and learn how to reverse the arthritis condition.
Get better control of your arthritis with help from our experts. Arthritis can be confusing, but don't worry, we have the tips you need to make it easier to manage.