What you need to know about arthritis


May is "Arthritis Awareness Month." It aims to make people more aware of arthritis and the issues involved.  Cleveland Clinic Rheumatologist Dr. Elaine Husni says osteoarthritis is most common; it's referred to as "wear and tear."

"There are a lot of age-related changes that occur in arthritis, so you lose a little more water content over time, your cartilage isn't as healthy as it once was and this wearing away of the cartilage is what actually leads to osteoarthritis," she explained.

Husni says one of the tell-tale signs of osteoarthritis is stiffness, especially after sitting for a long time, or when you wake up in the morning. It typically goes away once you get up and start moving.

To decrease the acceleration of osteoarthritis, Husni recommends maintaining a healthy weight and always warming-up before a workout to decrease your chance of an injury to the joint. She also says not to confuse osteoarthritis with rheumatoid arthritis, which is caused by inflammation.

"Inflammatory arthritis is generally more progressive and leads to more disability, occurs faster over time and so the drugs that are used for inflammatory arthritis, such as RA or psoriatic arthritis, are a lot more aggressive," Husni said.

She adds the key to treating your arthritis is to get a proper diagnosis.