Over 3 million Australians are affected by Arthritis – This country’s leading cause of disability and chronic pain
Arthritis & Rheumatism – What is the difference?
Arthritis means inflammation of a joint. Rheumatism is a general term used to describe any pain in the musculoskeletal system.
There are 3 main categories of arthritis…
1. Degenerative (Eg, Osteoarthritis)
2. Inflammatory (Eg; Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis)
3. Crystal Arthritis (Eg; Gout)
Not all-muscoskeletal pain is caused by arthritis. Pain can arise from irritation of tissues around joints, such as ligaments and tendons (often referred to as soft tissues).
Minor injury or overuse can cause localised pain, which often lasts only for a short period. Tennis elbow and housemaid’s knee are examples.
In addition, more generalised pain can develop in muscles or joints in situations where there is no arthritis, e.g. fibromyalgia
Those considered to have arthritis have symptoms of tiredness, a general feeling of being unwell, loss of weight, mild fevers or night sweats, and skin rashes. These symptoms are not specific to arthritis, however, can be caused by other illnesses.
It is recommended that you see a General Practitioner who will take your history into consideration and do a medical examination. Blood tests, X-rays and scans may also be required.
There is no single treatment for arthritis, however many forms can be effectively controlled and the symptoms managed to give you a better quality of life.
Self Management – Helping Yourself
Take control of your life and your arthritis and do not let it control you. An effective partnership requires you to communicate and work closely with your health care team, family and friends.
Arthritis can affect your lifestyle and it is important to develop skills and apply them to:
- Healthy Eating
- Physical Activity
- Leisure Activities
- Stress Management & Relaxation
- Interpersonal Relationships
- Managing and reducing your pain
- Safe and effective use of medicines
- Caring for your joints
- Balancing rest, activity and exercise