National Arthritis Awareness Month

By Roger Hirchak, D.O., Vice President of Medical Services, Shell Point Retirement Community

May is National Arthritis Awareness Month. In recognition of this designation, we wanted to shine a light on some facts related to arthritis, review the related symptoms, and offer some tips to help manage and control arthritis pain. As Baby Boomers age, the prevalence of arthritis is expected to rise by 40 percent – to approximately 67 million people – by the year 2030, according the Arthritis Foundation.

Arthritis is characterized by:

  • Joint pain, stiffness and tenderness
  • Limited range of motion
  • Crepitus, or a crackling, grinding noise with movement
  • Joint effusion (swelling)
  • Local inflammation
  • Bony enlargements and osteophyte formation

Certain factors, including age, obesity, injury or overuse, heredity, and muscle weakness make us more susceptible to osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis. OA is often known as “wear and tear”arthritis, because it is caused by the wearing down of cartilage at the end of bones over time. Unfortunately, at this time, there is no cure for OA and symptoms gradually get worse with age. Yet, there are steps that you can take to help alleviate the pain associated with OA and even slow the progression of the condition.

Common goals for treating OA include improving your ability to perform daily activities through a combination of:

  • Joint protection
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Medications
  • Surgery, if other treatments are unsuccessful

Throughout the rest of this month, as we recognize National Arthritis Awareness Month, we will post additional articles related to arthritis awareness, management strategies, and treatment options.