Is It Arthritis?

Arthritis is the name given to over 100 different conditions that cause joint pain and tenderness. Even though arthritis affects over 86 million Americans, aches and pains in the joint may be something other than arthritis. Another condition could be to blame for the pain. How do you know if it is arthritis or if it is something else?
The main symptoms of arthritis are:
* Pain
* Stiffness
* Inflammation
* Damage to cartilage
* Joint weakness
* Visible deformities
* Instability of the joint
Many illnesses have similar symptoms so it is often necessary to seek a doctor’s diagnosis to know for sure if your pain is from arthritis or another condition.
Tendonitis is one non-arthritis cause for joint pain such as inflammation in the tendons in the elbow or pain in the shoulders, knees, hips or wrists. Since both conditions cause pain with movement and tenderness in the area, it is no wonder people often confuse tendonitis with arthritis. You can tell the difference if you have had a recent injury to the tendons as well as pain occurring over a larger area. Arthritis is centralized in the joint.
Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that affects tender points such as shoulders, hips, back, arms and legs. These same joints are also affected by arthritis. Fibromyalgia pain, however, extends past the joints. Medical doctors do not fully understand this condition, but they can give you a proper diagnosis.  If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, visit your local naturopathic doctor and have him or her guide you through a whole body detox.  Decreasing the body burden of toxins will decrease your overall inflammation decreasing symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Many people experience achiness in the joints when they have the flu. Over-the-counter pain relievers can treat this type of pain, but you will want to know for sure what the cause is. Flu, caused by a virus, also has symptoms of fever, chills, headache and cough. Even though the two are similar concerning joint pain, you will get over the flu quickly whereas you may live with chronic pain from arthritis for years.
One type of arthritis often treated as a separate condition is gout. This condition, characterized by pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints, often affects the big toe. Unlike other forms of arthritis, gout is not caused from overuse or an immune disorder. Instead, excessive uric acid in the blood is the cause. To treat gout, doctors recommend patients cut back on eating organ meats, seafood and drinking beer. Changes to the diet can prevent future attacks.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can also be mistaken for arthritis. This condition occurs when the tunnel in the wrist area for the ligaments and nerves are constricted which leads to pain, tingling and numbness in the fingers. Repetitive motions such as typing and some hobbies are believed to be the cause of carpal tunnel syndrome. Once properly diagnosed, a doctor will recommend surgery to correct it or will prescribe use of a splint to help relieve the pain.
If you begin experiencing pain in your joints on a regular basis, arthritis may be the culprit. Before you decide you have arthritis, consider these other conditions with painful joints as a symptom. Of course, your doctor is the only one who can properly diagnose what is causing your pain. The sooner you make an appointment, the sooner you will know what you have and how to treat it.
By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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