By Katy Siwirski

Arthritis is best described as inflammation of one or more joints within the body. Symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased range of motion. Arthritis can be easily confused with other types of illnesses. If you start experiencing these types of symptoms, don’t jump to conclusions! There are numerous other diseases out there that have the same symptoms. It is important to know your exact symptoms to get the proper diagnosis.

If you are experiencing inflammation of the joints, but it is better described as a dull ache with tenderness and mild swelling, you may be experiencing tendinitis. Tendinitis is the inflammation of a tendon, which is a dense collagen cord that attaches muscles to bones. Tendinitis most commonly occurs in shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and heels. This condition can be caused by a sudden injury, but it is much more likely to occur from repetition of a specific movement over time. This can include throwing a ball or pouring a beverage. The most significant difference between arthritis and tendinitis is the site of inflammation.

If you are experiencing numbness, tingling, and weakness in your hand, you may be experiencing carpal tunnel syndrome. This is caused by pressure on your median nerve, which runs the length of the arm, and goes through a passage in the wrist called the carpel tunnel. The carpel tunnel narrows as a result of swelling. Carpal tunnel syndrome is typically caused by repetitive motions, but can also be caused by hypothyroidism, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. Symptoms for this syndrome can last a long time, or get progressively worse over time, if left untreated. Upon early diagnosis, carpal tunnel syndrome can be easily treated with a wide variety of treatments.

If you are experiencing widespread musculoskeletal pain, as well as fatigue, memory, and mood issues, you may be experiencing fibromyalgia. The pain associated with fibromyalgia is often described as a constant dull ache that lasts for at least three months. For it to be considered widespread, the pain must be on both sides of the body, as well as above and below the waist. Many patients with fibromyalgia have sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. Fibromyalgia can also be a link to migraines and various joint disorders. With proper therapies, medications, and lifestyle adjustments, fibromyalgia is highly treatable.

If you are experiencing fatigue, a fever, joint pain, and a butterfly-shaped rash on the face, you may be experiencing lupus. No two cases of lupus are the same, and symptoms can be sudden or slow developing. Most people with lupus experience episodes of symptoms that will ultimately improve or disappear. Lupus is best described as the immune system attacking healthy tissues in the body, which is considered an autoimmune disease. Causes of lupus involve genetics and the environment around you. Potential triggers of lupus include sunlight, infections, and medications. Contact your doctor immediately if you begin experiencing any of these symptoms.

Many of the illnesses described above can be caused by arthritis, but not all illnesses described are arthritis. It is important to recognize that many of the above mentioned diseases have overlapping symptoms and identify which group of symptoms belongs to each aliment. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please consult your doctor before taking further action.

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