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May 26, 2020

The word arthritis actually means joint inflammation. The term arthritis is used to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues which surround the joint and other connective tissue. The pattern, severity and location of symptoms can vary depending on the specific form of the disease. Typically, rheumatic conditions are characterized by pain and stiffness in and around one or more joints. The symptoms can develop gradually or suddenly. Certain rheumatic conditions can also involve the immune system and various internal organs of the body.


There are different types of arthritis such as:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Gout
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
  • Fibromyalgia

Risk Factors

Certain factors have been shown to be associated with a greater risk of arthritis. Some of these risk factors are modifiable while others are not. Non-modifiable risk factors

  • Age: The risk of developing most types of arthritis increases with age.
  • Gender: Most types of arthritis are more common in women, accounting for 60% of all cases. Gout is more common in men.
  • Genetic: Genes have been identified that are associated with a higher risk of certain types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematous (SLE).
  • Modifiable risk factors
  • Overweight and Obesity: Excess weight can contribute to both the onset and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
  • Joint Injuries: Damage to a joint can contribute to the development of osteoarthritis of that joint.
  • Infection: Many microbial agents can infect joints and potentially cause the development of various forms of arthritis.
  • Occupation: Certain occupations involving repetitive knee bending are associated with osteoarthritis of the knee.

The focus of the treatment for arthritis is to control pain, minimize joint damage, and to improve or maintain function and quality of life. The treatment of arthritis might involve the following:

  • Medication.
  • Nonpharmacologic therapies.
  • Physical or occupational therapy.
  • Splints or joint assistive aids.
  • Patient education and support.
  • Weight loss.
  • Surgery.

Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis
Early diagnosis and appropriate management of arthritis, including self-management activities, can help people with arthritis decrease pain, improve function, stay productive, and lower health care costs. Key self-management activities include the following:

  • See Your Doctor at Belize Medical Associates – Although there is no cure for most types of arthritis, early diagnosis and appropriate management is important, especially for inflammatory types of arthritis. For example, early use of disease-modifying drugs can affect the course of rheumatoid arthritis. If you have symptoms of arthritis, see your doctor at Belize Medical Associates and begin appropriate management of your condition.
  • Learn What You Can Do – Ask your doctor at Belize Medical Associates for Self-management education.  It has been shown to reduce pain even 4 years after participating in the class.
  • Be Active – Research has shown that physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity at least 3 days a week. You can get activity in 10-minute intervals.
  • Watch Your Weight – The prevalence of arthritis increases with increasing weight. Research suggests that maintaining a healthy weight reduces the risk of developing arthritis and may decrease disease progression. A loss of just 11 pounds can decrease the occurrence (incidence) of knee osteoarthritis.
  • Protect Your Joints – Joint injury can lead to osteoarthritis. People who experience sports or occupational injuries or have jobs with repetitive motions like repeated knee bending have more osteoarthritis. Avoid joint injury to reduce your risk of developing osteoarthritis.