As one of the most common types of health-related conditions in the UK, arthritis can quickly affect someone’s quality of life.
However, by staying active and looking after your joints later in life, there are many ways to prevent the onset of arthritis as we get older and measures that we can implement at home to improve our chances of remaining mobile.
What are the warning signs of arthritis?
Arthritis is a common problem that affects people all over the country. People tend to want to know what’s wrong when they experience joint swelling, stiffness, joint pain but also unexplained fatigue and a general sense of onset illness.
These symptoms should prompt you to consult a doctor and carry out an examination.
How is arthritis medically diagnosed?
A diagnosis is the first step towards improving arthritis. Health care providers will generally take a physical examination and ask you about your symptoms. Depending on the evaluation you’re looking for, you might opt to see a GP, a rheumatologist or an orthopaedic specialist.
The health evaluation
The evaluation should begin with a series of questions. These might include asking when the symptoms started, what’s the level of pain, when stiffness occurs and what currently relieves the pain.
You will be asked about your current, recent and past medical histories, such as whether your job requires long hours of standing or sitting, habits such as smoking, diet, sleep, and exercise.
You will also be asked about your family medical history, and whether any member suffers from any type of arthritis or rheumatoid arthritis – as this could play a role.
The physical examination
Doctors will need to physically examine your joints and will look for signs of swelling, stiffness or redness. If more than one joint is affected, they will count them and check whether there are any symmetrical patterns on both sides of the body. They will feel the joint for warmth or fluid, moving them back and forth to see the range of motion.
The doctor will then take the steps for a standard examination, including a temperature reading, a check for swollen glands, a reflex check and a look into the eyes and throat.
How long does it take to know the results?
Depending on the findings, they may need to use blood tests and an X-ray examination or imaging test to distinguish the type of arthritis that somebody has – as they differ from one to the next. For example, people with rheumatoid arthritis have particular antibodies in their blood and that needs to be identified, and osteoarthritis reveals a loss of bone and cartilage.
First, the doctor will eliminate possible problems besides arthritis. With more than 100 types of the condition, it is not always a straightforward process of diagnosis. It is also common that arthritic symptoms come and go intermittently.
If the diagnosis is not clear, but it is clear that there is some kind of inflammatory arthritis at work, doctors may prescribe treatment to bring down the inflammation. It is better to treat it sooner rather than later.
What options are there available for somebody who has arthritis?
While there are many options, the most common treatments include rest, occupational or physical therapy, drug prescriptions to reduce pain and inflammation, exercise and sometimes joint correcting surgery.
Newer treatments have been able to slow the progression of arthritic damage, and there are also a number of occupational therapies to future proof your home whilst staying healthy and preventing arthritic symptoms from worsening instead of opting immediately for surgery. For example, as the largest supplier of walk-in baths in the UK, we have a large range available to suit various needs and mobility issues.
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We advocate a healthy, active lifestyle to carry us into old age with ease. It is easy to slip into a sedentary lifestyle, but with a few small changes, you can help prevent the effect of joint pain and arthritis.