Arthritis: Are you experiencing weakness or muscle wastage? You may have the condition

Rheumatoid Arthritis: NHS on common signs and symptoms

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If you have arthritis, it’s important to look after your joints to avoid further damage. Around 10 million people in the UK are thought to have arthritis and there are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. The symptoms of arthritis can vary from week to week so joint pain may come and go.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is estimated that around 8.75 million people in the UK have seen a doctor about osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis initially affects the smooth cartilage lining of the joint. This makes movement more difficult than usual, leading to pain and stiffness.

The NHS says there are lots of different types of arthritis, and the symptoms you experience will vary depending on the type you have.

The health body says signs include weakness and muscle wasting, as well as joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, inflammation in and around the joints, restricted movement of the joints and warm red skin over the affected joint.

There are “four important warning signs that should prompt you to talk to a healthcare provider”, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

It says you should keep track of your symptoms.The first is a pain which can be constant or it may come and go.“It may occur when at rest or while moving.

“Pain may be in one part of the body or in many different parts,” the Arthritis Foundation says.

Another “classic arthritis symptom” is stiffness, especially when waking up in the morning or after sitting at a desk or riding in a car for a long time.

The Arthritis Foundation states: “Morning stiffness that lasts longer than an hour is good reason to suspect arthritis.”

Two other key signs are swelling and difficulty moving a joint.Arthritis can be very painful in some instances.

Fortunately, there are some factors which may help relieve pain. In older people, joint pain that gets steadily worse is often a sign of osteoarthritis.There are some lifestyle habits and changes that might help manage symptoms.

These include eating a healthy diet and managing your weight. If you are overweight it can increase complications of arthritis and contribute to joint pain.

“It’s very important to eat a healthy, balanced diet if you have arthritis. Eating healthily will give you all the nutrients you need and help you maintain a healthy weight,” says the NHS.

You should also try to quit smoking. “Smoking causes stress on connective tissues, which can increase arthritis pain,” says the Mayo Clinic.

Versus Arthritis says: “As well as medical treatments, there are many things you can do to help yourself manage your arthritis.”

It adds: “You might not always feel like exercising if you have arthritis. And you might be worried that exercising will make your pain or your condition worse. However, exercise can make symptoms such as pain and swelling better.”

The charity says: “Having a good understanding of your condition will help you know about your treatment options and why exercise and other self-management methods are important.“

It will also mean you’re in a good position to get the most out of your appointments with healthcare professionals.

“If you’re ever struggling with any aspects of managing your arthritis, or notice new symptoms, you should see a GP.

“They could also refer you to another relevant healthcare professional.”

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