Living With Arthritis: What's Normal and What's Not

There are more than 100 types of arthritis and they all come with the disease’s signature aches and pains in your joints. While the causes of most arthritis cases are unknown, the symptoms are strikingly similar. If you live with arthritis, you know that pain and stiffness are to be expected, but you may be experiencing symptoms you didn’t even know were related to your arthritic condition. 

Our doctors at Crescent City Orthopedics specialize in diagnosing your arthritis and identifying all your symptoms, so you can manage them or even overcome them. Once we get to know you and your unique health concerns, we customize a treatment plan just for you, which may include medication, physical therapy, weight loss, heat and cold applications, surgery, or any combination of those treatments. 

If you have arthritis, our doctors would like you to know a little more about what is normal to expect, depending on the type of arthritis you have and how long you’ve had it. Here are some of the lesser-known symptoms you might encounter.

Fatigue

Nearly all (98%) people who have rheumatoid arthritis, which occurs when your immune system attacks the cells and tissues in your joints, also suffer from fatigue. True fatigue is much different than merely feeling tired. It’s a deep, overwhelming feeling of exhaustion. It interferes with your daily routine and even affects you mentally and emotionally. 

You can help fight arthritis-related fatigue, by:

Hot joints

A “hot joint” might sound like a good place to hang out, but if you have arthritis, this phrase means some altogether different. Because the hallmark of arthritis is inflammation, it’s not uncommon for the area to warm up as your body tries to quell the swelling. 

So if your elbows, wrists, or hands feel like they have a fever, that’s a pretty good description of what’s going on underneath your skin. Cold compresses may help reduce the swelling, cool the area, and relieve some discomfort. 

Bone degeneration

If you have osteoarthritis (OA), you’re not alone. OA plagues more than 27 million Americans. This is the type of arthritis that causes the cartilage in your joints to break down, leaving you with no cushion between your bones and lots of pain. It also puts you at a higher risk for bone degeneration as bone rubs against bone. 

As your osteoarthritis progresses and you lose your protective cartilage, you’re likely to develop bone spurs that often break off and float freely in your joints, which can cause even more pain.

The best way to manage your osteoarthritis pain and ward off further damage is:

Redness and swelling

Don’t be alarmed if you notice redness and swelling in your arthritic joints. The inflammation going on under the surface is bound to make itself known externally as well. Whether you have osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or psoriatic arthritis, redness and swelling are part of the territory. 

You may find that these symptoms are worse in the morning when you first get out of bed. But they tend to subside after about half an hour. If you need some relief, hot and cold applications help most people push past the worst of it. Heat relaxes muscles and joints, and cold reduces swelling and temporarily numbs the pain. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can also help.

Not-so-normal arthritis symptoms that require medical attention

All of the common symptoms of arthritis can be anticipated and managed, but if you have any type of arthritis, you may be at a greater risk for more serious health issues. Here are a few arthritis-related conditions that need immediate attention.

If you experience any of these symptoms, whether they are common or not, call us at Crescent City Orthopedics or book an appointment online so we can help you get your arthritis under control. 

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