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Treating Your Own Arthritis Arthritis is an inflammatory disorder of one or more of the human body’s major joints. In its early stages, arthritis causes swelling on smaller joints like those found in the feet and hands, and can continue on bigger joints like the elbows, shoulders, and knees if not treated. There are more than a hundred types of arthritis, but the most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis caused by too much rubbing pressure on joints that bear weight such as the feet, hips, knees, and spine. This may have an abrupt onset or a gradual beginning, and presents itself as a constant joint pain brought upon by a decreased amount of lubricating fluid in between joints. Osteoarthritis often affects individuals with excess weight that adds more pressure to the weight bearing joints, eventually causing damage to the cartilage and limiting mobility. RA is a chronic inflammation of the joints that is caused by an immunologic reaction. The affected joints are those attacked by the individual’s immune function, making the joints swell and eventually causing damage. The exact cause is unknown, but most studies have observed that most cases occur after certain infections from bacteria and viruses. This arthritis can be gradual or sudden in onset and can affects more joints with a symmetrical pattern of swelling. Arthritis inflammation often causes varying degrees of pain and makes joints stiff and difficult to move. Typical treatment prescribed for cases of arthritis varies according to its identified cause and presented symptoms, where doctors often recommend pain relief medicines or surgeries in irreversible cases to replace damaged joints with implants or prosthetics that can improve movement. Common medicines for different types of arthritis usually targets symptoms to reduce symptoms. These are often pain relievers and anti inflammatory medicines, or corticosteroids that may inhibit immunologic reactions that stimulate inflammation. Topical creams or gels may also be given to relieve painful symptoms.
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Some alternative medicines have also been used to provide arthritis pain relief like acupuncture, yoga, hot and cold compress, relaxation techniques and massages. These treatments have not been known to have a scientific basis, but some patients claim that it helped improve their condition and quality of life.
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A couple of arthritis organizations have developed self-treatment programs to educate patients and enable them to be responsible enough for their health changes to improve their condition. Although arthritis are mostly determined by non modifiable factors like age and genes, weight loss and dietary programs are known to provide significant benefits in a patient’s overall health. Prescribed pain medications may help relieve pain symptoms temporarily, but modifications in activities and habits in diet may provide relief in the long run. Engaging in regular exercises, diet modifications and avoiding unhealthy meat and processed foods can significantly improve quality of health among arthritis patients.