Osteoarthritis can trigger pain throughout body, but new research suggests that early treatment can help prevent arthritis pain from spreading through the body. By getting an early diagnosis, people can stay active and reduce their likelihood of having arthritis worsen other chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Arthritis pain that begins slowly in one joint and is left untreated can eventually wallop the entire body, leading to disability and costly surgeries, researchers reported Sunday.Studies being discussed at the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., through Wednesday find that when osteoarthritis progresses to multiple joints, it can cause havoc by triggering pain everywhere in the body from head to toe. New ways of managing the disease, which afflicts 27 million Americans, can prevent the crippling pain from spreading and improve overall health, says Joanne Jordan, chairman of the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative's Chronic Osteoarthritis Management Initiative.

"We need to treat the pain early on before it gets generalized," says Jordan, director of the University of North Carolina's Thurston Arthritis Research Center. "When pain becomes generalized, things that ordinarily wouldn't hurt are hurtful. For instance, you can pat someone on the shoulder, and their shoulder, which might not be near the afflicted joint, will hurt. They'll wince or cry out."

Tops on the list: prevention. By getting an early diagnosis, people can stay active and reduce their likelihood of having arthritis worsen other chronic health problems, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, Jordan says.
"Many doctors assume an inevitable trajectory of aging and osteoarthritis," she says. "And they think joint-replacement surgery will address the problem."
This "joint death and rebirth process" can be transformed, she says, by identifying risk factors (such as family history, obesity and sports injuries early in life) and doing regular follow-ups.




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