There are over 100 types of joint arthritis. Approximately one in three adults between ages 18 and 65 have arthritis. And as many as 91 million Americans, including those who have been diagnosed and those who have not, have arthritis.
Joint arthritis affects so many people, and if you’re dealing with some sort of joint pain, it may be affecting you too. The only way to know for sure is to inform yourself on what arthritis is, and what the signs and symptoms are.
If you or someone you love has symptoms of arthritis, now is the time to see a Rothman Orthopaedic Institute physician for an evaluation. Empowered by this knowledge, you can better understand your condition and the treatments available to you.
Below, we’ve laid out the basics. The following FAQ list contains information on how arthritis is defined, critical symptoms, risk factors, prevention techniques, and more.
Everything You Need to Know About Joint Arthritis
What is Arthritis?
This is a tough disease to pin down in a few simple sentences because it is not a single disease.
At its most basic, joint arthritis refers to the pain, inflammation, and stiffness felt in one or multiple joints. These symptoms can range from mild and manageable to debilitating. Certain types and degrees of arthritis can cause permanent joint changes and damage.
To better understand the impact of arthritis, consider the anatomy of a joint in your body. A joint forms where two bones meet, but there are other components that support the area. Cartilage, for example, is a tissue covering that protects the bones. Ligaments, tendons, and bursa regulate healthy movements that impact that particular joint. The presence of arthritis can disrupt the normal functions of the joint, eventually leading to pain and disability if not treated.
What Are the Most Common Types of Joint Arthritis?
As previously mentioned, arthritis takes many different forms. Below are the three most common types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis: Also known as wear and tear arthritis, this degenerative joint disorder is considered one of the ten most disabling diseases in developed countries. It typically impacts middle-aged or older adults. Additional factors that lead to this disease include a family history of osteoarthritis, a previous or existing injury, and obesity. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage that cushions the ends of the involved bones begins to break down. Without cartilage protecting these bones, they may rub together with each movement of the joint, resulting in swelling, pain, and eventually loss of mobility in the joint. Bone spurs may also result, as well as weakening and stiffening of the surrounding ligaments and muscles.
Rheumatoid arthritis: This disease is another common cause of joint arthritis. In cases of rheumatoid arthritis, the lining of multiple joints will systematically swell. Over time, this consistent inflammation can invade and destroy the cartilage and bone, creating similar symptoms and effects to those of osteoarthritis. Doctors and researchers believe patients with rheumatoid arthritis “genes” experience symptoms when these genes are activated by a trigger. When an infection or environmental factor sets off arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the affected joint.
Psoriatic arthritis: Similar to rheumatoid arthritis, this condition is an inflammatory form of arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis typically occurs in people who have skin psoriasis, a disease causing raised, scaly patches on the skin. For some, the arthritis symptoms will surface before the skin disorder. Psoriatic arthritis can affect any one or more joints in the body. This type of arthritis has been associated with other health conditions and symptoms, such as fatigue, strep throat, anemia, hereditary factors, and more. Talk to your orthopaedic physician about possible causes and risk factors.
What Treatments are Available for Arthritis?
Most cases respond well to conservative treatment options. Below are some care methods often recommended by the joint doctors at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute.
Lifestyle modifications: Efforts that fall under this category vary for every patient. For example, for those who are overweight or obese, losing weight may reduce symptoms and lift some pressure from the joints. You should also reduce all activities that aggravate the arthritic areas. This may mean switching from a high-intensity workout routine to exercises that are easier on your joints (such as swimming or biking).
Braces or support devices: Wearing a brace or walking with a cane may help you move around with less pain. If your arthritis impacts your foot or ankle joints, your doctor may recommend shoe inserts or shoes with stiff soles that can minimize the pressure when walking.
Medications: For some, over-the-counter medications have improved pain and inflammation in arthritic joints. Your doctor may also prescribe you a specific medication, depending on the type of arthritis and your pain levels. In-office cortisone injections may also be an option for you. In any case, do not take medications without your doctor’s direct approval, and follow all instructions accordingly.
Physical therapy: Your orthopaedic physician may recommend an individualized physical therapy program to strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints and increase mobility.
For severe cases of arthritis that have caused significant damage to the joint, surgery may be recommended. Some common procedures available are the removal of the damaged joint lining, realigning or replacing the joint, and fusing bones together to relieve joint pain. If surgery is recommended, your doctor will provide you with instructions to help you prepare for the operation and understand what to expect.
Get Treated for Joint Arthritis
Whether you are concerned you may have arthritis or recently received a diagnosis and are seeking treatment, the specialists at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute can help. Our team includes orthopaedic experts who are able to design the best approach to care for your condition.
To receive more information about joint arthritis and our services, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999.