In a truly comprehensive medical encyclopedia, you’d find more than 100 diseases and conditions under the word “arthritis.” But many people with arthritis symptoms have one of two diseases, rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Some of the symptoms—including pain and stiffness around one or more joints—seem similar. The causes and treatment, however, differ.
If you have arthritis symptoms, talk with your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a rheumatologist—a doctor with special training in arthritis and related conditions.
Treatments for arthritis include rest, exercise, proper diet, medication, and instruction from your physician about the proper use of joints and ways to conserve energy.
Moderate, consistent exercise may relieve joint pain and improve your quality of life if you have either type of arthritis. Talk with your doctor about the best program for you. Many people find relief—and joy—in recreational and leisure activities, including gardening, swimming, and dancing.
Though knowing the basics can help, everyone handles the disease differently—you might not have a textbook case. Working with your doctor on an arthritis treatment plan can help you reduce pain, protect your joints, and live an active life.
Always consult your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional before changing your daily activity, diet, or adding a supplement.
“Arthritis Advice.” National Institute on Aging. Updated March 10, 2016. www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/arthritis-advice.
“Arthritis Treatment Timeline.” Arthritis Foundation. www.arthritistoday.org/about-arthritis/types-of-arthritis/rheumatoid-arthritis/treatment-plan/treatment-choices/treatment-timeline.php. Accessed June 2, 2016.
“Drug Guide: DMARDs.” Arthritis Foundation. www.arthritistoday.org/arthritis-treatment/medications/types-of-drugs/disease-modifying-drugs/drug-guide-dmards.php. Accessed June 2, 2016.
“Exercise and Arthritis.” American College of Rheumatology. Reviewed April 2015. www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Living-Well-with-Rheumatic-Disease/Exercise-and-Arthritis.
“Frequently Asked Questions—General Public.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 9, 2016. www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/faqs.htm.
“Handout on Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. February 2016. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Rheumatic_Disease/default.asp.
“Osteoarthritis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated October 28, 2015. www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm.
“Physical Activity and Arthritis Overview.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated May 9, 2016. www.cdc.gov/arthritis/pa_overview.htm.
“Rheumatoid Arthritis.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated October 28, 2015. www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/rheumatoid.htm.
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.