Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States, and only heart disease causes more people to miss work or need assistance with their daily routines.
Arthritis is not a single disease--it includes more than a hundred different conditions that affect joints and surrounding tissue. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, gout and bursitis are a few of the more common conditions. Each has a different treatment and different symptoms. There is no cure for most types of arthritis, but their effects can be reduced considerably so patients can improve quality of life. Some types of arthritis can be avoided by preventing joint injuries and infections such as Lyme disease, and weight loss is credited with a decrease in osteoarthritis of the knee.
Osteoporosis is a condition of progressive loss and thinning of bone tissue, making bones more prone to fracture. Failure to achieve good bone strength in childhood and early adulthood places an individual at risk, as does poor calcium intake, smoking, extreme thinness, consuming more than two alcoholic drinks per day, and thyroid disease or a family history of osteoporosis. Women, especially after menopause, are more susceptible than men. The condition can be detected by a bone densitometry and treated by medication, exercise and calcium and vitamin D supplements.
Both osteoporosis and osteoarthritis can be prevented or controlled by regular, moderate exercise. The Rhode Island Department of Health offers information on exercise and other self-management skills such as pain control techniques. Call 401-222-7636 for details.