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Arthritis is one of the most common chronic health problems in the U.S. today.

Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms affect nearly 50 million Americans and that number is expected to increase as the population ages.  Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease and one of the leading causes of disability says Dr. Anne Miller, assistant professor and chief of rheumatology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She explains how the disease can affect people.

“Symptoms usually start out with a minor stiffness, often after you have been sitting for a period of time you’ll  notice that you have to move a minute to get that stiff sensation to go away. This is followed by pain usually with weight bearing or use of the affected joint.  And that’s a pain that will generally get better when you rest it.”

Osteoarthritis can affect most joints of a person’s body, especially the knees and hips.  Dr. Miller suggests that strengthening exercises, swimming and losing weight can be helpful.  She explains other treatment options.

“... Very early on what people can do are physical measures, keeping the muscles around the bones strong to protect the joints. They can maintain an ideal weight or try to lose a little bit of weight. ...  Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or the pain relievers like acetaminophen can be used.” 

Anyone experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis should see their primary care physician for evaluation and possible treatment.  If the condition is severe, they may be referred to a rheumatologist.

Ruth Slottag