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Frequently Asked Questions
The below answers some general questions about arthritis including how arthritis affects the body and some statistics on who gets arthritis.
What is arthritis?
The word arthritis literally means joint inflammation ("arthr-" means joint; "-itis" means inflammation). It refers to more than 100 different diseases. These diseases usually affect the area in or around joints such as muscles and tendons. Some of these diseases can also affect other parts of the body including the skin and internal organs.
There are many types of arthritis. Most forms of arthritis are chronic which means they may last a lifetime.
Who gets arthritis?
It affects people of all ages but it most often comes on as a person gets older.
How does arthritis feel?
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
Can arthritis cause numbness?
Numbness is often a symptom of nerve involvement. For instance, numbness in the arm may be related to nerve irritation in the neck. In such a situation, turning or bending the head to the involved side may increase the symptoms.
Why do joints make popping and cracking noises?
Joints can make different noises--some are serious and some are not.Some people learn how to "pop their knuckles." By pushing or pulling a joint in a certain way an air bubble can suddenly appear in the joint with a "pop." Once the bubble is there the joint cannot be popped again until the air has been reabsorbed.
Can cracking knuckles cause arthritis?
There is no evidence that cracking one's knuckles can cause arthritis directly. However repeated injury of a joint or repeatedly causing it to swell can injure the cartilage and potentially lead to degenerative joint disease.
What are the warning signs of arthritis?
Pain from arthritis can be ongoing or can come and go. It may occur when you're moving or after you have been still for some time. You may feel pain in one spot or in many parts of your body.
What causes arthritis?
Scientists are currently researching what roles three major factors play in certain types of arthritis. These include the genetic factors you inherit from your parents, what happens to you during your life and how you live. The importance of these factors varies for every type of arthritis.
How is arthritis diagnosed?
It's important to find out if you have arthritis and what type it is because treatments vary for each type. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to help slow or prevent joint damage that can occur during the first few years for several types.
Only a doctor can tell if you have arthritis and what type it is. When you see your doctor for the first time about arthritis, expect at least three things to happen. Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms examine you and take some tests or X-rays.