Every year, over 50 million Americans learn that they have some form of arthritis, a group of conditions that cause joint inflammation which is often accompanied by pain and stiffness. Dr. Ashley M. Classen and the team at Trinity Pain Medicine Associates in Fort Worth, Texas can help diagnose and treat your arthritic condition, so you can continue your active life. Call the office or book an appointment online today.
Arthritis is not a single condition with a single cause. Osteoarthritis is the most common form, where the cartilage that protects the ends of bones erodes, permitting bone-on-bone contact and creating inflammation and pain in a joint. Often due to the wear and tear of daily living, osteoarthritis may also follow an injury to a joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of the disease, and it’s an autoimmune problem, where the synovium – the lining of a joint – is broken down by your dysfunctional immune system. The synovium swells in response, and joint deterioration typically follows. Infections, diseases, and components in your blood can cause other types of arthritis, such as gout, for example.
Symptoms change, depending on the type of arthritis you have. However, most forms share some common traits, which can include:
You’re at increased risk of arthritis if you have family members with the disorder. Even without a genetic connection, your risk of developing many types of arthritis increases simply by getting older. Rheumatoid arthritis tends to affect women more than men, while gout favors men. Being overweight can put added strain on joints, another risk factor for arthritis, and an injury to a joint may cause premature breakdown of that joint, leading to an arthritic condition.
Though it seems counterintuitive, some types of arthritis respond well to physical therapy and increased activity. Working the affected joints can reduce the symptoms and pain. Accompanying that, weight loss may also ease the strain on weight-bearing joints.
Medications can often help. Over-the-counter and prescription medications often address the pain and inflammation of arthritis, particularly in the early stages of the disorder’s progress. Corticosteroids both reduce inflammation and suppress immune system activity, making these suitable for most types of arthritis. Other drugs can interrupt immune system attacks on your joints if you have rheumatoid arthritis.
Typically a last resort treatment, surgery may be an option when other treatments fail. This can include joint repair, joint fusion, or joint replacement.