Health Beat with Dr. Alicia Arnold: Arthritis

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability among adults in our country. May is Arthritis Awareness Month and on Monday morning, Dr. Alicia Arnold shared more information about the condition.

Meghan Kulig: How many people are affected by this disease?

Dr. Arnold: It affects around 50 million Americans and is on the rise. It is estimated that by the year 2030, it will be affect 67 million Americans.

Meghan Kulig: What are the main types of arthritis?

Dr. Arnold: Arthritis actually encompasses a whole family of more than a hundred different conditions. Osteoarthritis is the first type that comes to mind for most people. This commonly occurs as we age or after an injury. There are also types of arthritis caused when the body's immune system, which is supposed to protect the body against infection, actually attacks the body's own tissue. An example is rheumatoid arthritis. There are other infectious and inflammatory types too.

Meghan Kulig: What do you think is the most common misconception about the disease?

Dr. Arnold: That it is only a disease of the elderly. Actually two-thirds of people with arthritis are under the age of 65 and about 300,000 are children.

Meghan Kulig: What if someone thinks they may have arthritis?

Dr. Arnold: The best first step is to have it checked out by your health care provider. There are many different types of arthritis and the treatments are dependent on which type you have. Arthritis can be a painful and debilitating disease, and you owe it to yourself to make sure you have an accurate diagnosis and know your treatment options.

Meghan Kulig: Can you tell us more about the most common form of arthritis?

Dr. Arnold: Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Cartilage acts as a shock absorber between our bones, but with time or injury, it can wear away and then the bone to bone contact can be quite painful. Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce stress on your joints and low impact physical activity like walking can help. Your health care provider can discuss medication options and surgery as a last resort.

Meghan Kulig: Something I'm sure many people wonder about, does cracking your knuckles lead to arthritis?

Dr. Arnold: Probably not. Several research studies have failed to show that cracking your knuckles leads to osteoarthritis. There have been rare reports of soft tissue injury after unusually vigorous cracking. The biggest risk may be irritating your friends and family members.

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