While there are over 100 different types of arthritis, all forms refer to an inflammation of the joints. The two most prevalent forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA). Typically symptoms appear gradually as you age, though, in some cases, they can worsen suddenly. Though arthritis most often affects adults over the age of 65, the disease can also be found in children, teens and young adults.
What Causes Arthritis?
The firm but flexible connective tissue in your joints is called cartilage. Cartilage protects and supports your joints by absorbing the shock as you move them. Some forms of arthritis are caused by a loss of cartilage.
Normal wear and tear on the joints is what causes osteoarthritis (OA). OA can be sped up by an injury or infection to the joint. If you have a family history of OA, your chances of getting the disease increase.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is actually an autoimmune disorder, and occurs when your own immune system attacks the tissues within your body. Specifically, RA attacks the synovium–the soft tissue in your joints that produce the fluid that nourishes the cartilage and helps to lubricate your joints. It can eventually lead to the destruction of both cartilage and bone. While the exact causes of RA still remain a mystery, scientists have narrowed down five genetic markers that increase a patient’s risk.
What Are the Symptoms of Arthritis?
The most common symptoms of arthritis are painful joints and extremities, swelling and stiffness. Some people may also experience a limited range of motion in the affected areas. For those with RA, symptoms may include loss of appetite, anemia, fever, and in severe cases, joint deformity.
Additionally, arthritis is more common in women than men, and in those who are overweight.
If you’re experiencing the arthritis symptoms mentioned above, it’s best to first visit your primary care physician. They’ll perform a physical exam to check for fluid around the joints, redness or inflammation, or a loss of motion. They can then refer you to a specialist if needed.
When diagnosing arthritis, most often a rheumatologist will draw your blood and perform tests to determine the levels of certain antibodies, like anti-CCP (anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide), RF (rheumatoid factor), and ANA (antinuclear antibody). Your doctor may also use an X-ray, CT or MRI to rule out other causes of your symptoms, such as bone spurs.
The goal of treatment is to reduce patient pain and to prevent further joint damage. Each individual is different in terms of what alleviates his or her pain. While some find heating pads or ice packs to be helpful, others use walkers or canes to take the pressure off of their joints.
Depending on the type and severity of your arthritis, your doctor may prescribe you medication. Immunosuppressants, like cortisone, can help reduce inflammation, while analgesics, like acetaminophen, can help reduce pain. Other medicines that may help control pain and inflammation include menthol creams or NSAIDs (like ibuprofen).
In severe cases, joint replacement surgery may be an option. During this procedure, your surgeon will replace your damaged joint with a new, artificial one. This most commonly occurs with hips and knees. If you’re having trouble with your fingers or wrists, your doctor may suggest a joint fusion, where your surgeon locks the bones together until they heal as one.
Another medical treatment is physical therapy. This can help patients strengthen the muscles around the affected joints to help maintain as wide of a range of motion as possible.
Joint Pain Treatment at Minivasive Pain
At Minivasive Pain, our mission is to diagnose and treat the causes of your joint pain with the highest standards of both quality and care. Using proven techniques to reduce pain and increase mobility, we’ll help remove obstacles and get you back to enjoying your life. We have several locations throughout the Greater Houston Area for your convenience. To schedule an appointment, please call (346) 800-6001.
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