Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the body’s joints that causes pain and stiffness. Although arthritis is mainly an adult disease, some forms affect children. There are many types of arthritis. They include osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, and infectious arthritis. While each of these conditions have different causes, the symptoms and treatment are often the same. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in weight-bearing joints such as the knee, hip, and spine. Although there is no cure for arthritis, there are many treatment options available to help manage pain and keep people active.
Arthritis may be caused by wear and tear on the articular cartilage through the natural aging process (osteoarthritis), or it may develop following an injury (post-traumatic arthritis). Inflammatory arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus arthritis, is the result of a systemic disease throughout the body. Regardless of whether arthritis is caused by injury, normal wear and tear, or systemic disease, the affected joint becomes inflamed, causing swelling, pain, and stiffness.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Also known as wear and tear arthritis, osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage that cushions and protects the ends of bones gradually wears away. Osteoarthritis results from overuse, trauma, or the natural degeneration of cartilage that occurs with aging.
Inflammatory arthritis results from an excessive inflammatory response inside a joint. It is usually the result of an overactive immune system (autoimmune arthritis) but can also be caused by certain diseases (such as Lyme disease) or by the buildup of crystals in the joint (such as gout or pseudogout). The most common cause of inflammatory arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects many parts of the body, but mainly the joints. The body’s immune system, which normally protects the body, begins to produce substances that attack it. Rheumatoid arthritis may affect both large and small joints in the body also the spine. Swelling, pain, and stiffness usually develop, even when the joint is not used. In some circumstances, juvenile arthritis may cause similar symptoms in children.
Psoriatic arthritis is associated with the skin disease psoriasis. While it may involve larger joints such as the knees it often presents with symptoms in smaller areas such as the distal joints at the tips of the fingers and toes.
Gouty arthritis develops as the result of uric acid buildup in the bloodstream. The uric acid forms crystals that cause acute inflammation in a joint. A gout attack can be acutely painful and may look like an infection (septic arthritis). Long term, many patients develop soft tissue masses (tophi) over the affected joints. In pseudogout, calcium pyrophosphate crystals deposit in the joint and cause similar inflammation as the uric acid crystals of gout.
Lyme arthritis can be one of the side effects of Lyme disease, a systemic infection caused by a tick bite. Lyme arthritis can be present acutely as pain and swelling in early stages of the disease.
Spondylytic arthritis mostly affects the spine. The most common form is ankylosing spondylitis. It often presents as low back pain with initial changes seen at the sacroiliac joints in the pelvis. A doctor can confirm this diagnosis with a positive blood test, HLA-B27.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects the blood and multiple organs, including the kidneys, skin, and heart. Lupus arthritis can be systemic and cause chronic pain in multiple joints.
Juvenile arthritis is the most common type of arthritis in children. It is estimated that more than 250,000 children under the age of 16 in the United States are affected.
Post traumatic arthritis results from an injury to the joint due to trauma. If a broken bone or fracture extends into a joint, it will damage the smooth cartilage and over time, the joint breaks down and becomes arthritic.
Septic arthritis is an infection of the joint. Bacteria most often reach the joint through the bloodstream from an infection in another part of the body, such as the urinary tract. Infected joints are typically warm, red, and acutely tender.
Arthritis is diagnosed through a careful evaluation of symptoms and a physical examination. X-rays are important to show the extent of any damage to the joint. Blood tests and other laboratory tests may help to determine the type of arthritis. Fluid from the joint must be analyzed to diagnose crystalline or septic arthritis. Symptoms of arthritis include weakness in the muscles surrounding the joint, tenderness to touch, limited ability to move the joint with assistance and actively without pain. Also, signs that multiple joints are painful or swollen, a grating feeling or sound with movement, pain when pressure is placed on the joint or the joint is moved, and deformity of the joint.
There is no cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments to help relieve the pain and disability that it can cause. Treatment depends on the type of arthritis. One treatment is Nonsurgical Treatment which involves medications such as NSAIDs, Immune Modifiers, Cortisone, Hyaluronic acid and exercise and physical therapy. Then there is the option of Surgical Treatment.
In most cases, people with arthritis can continue to perform normal activities of daily living. Exercise programs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and weight reduction for obese people are common measures to reduce pain, stiffness, and improve function. Some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are often treated by a team of health care professionals.
If you believe you are suffering for a type of arthritis and believe we can help, please feel free to contact us to schedule an appointment at 772-932-9310 or visit our website at www.hobesoundprimarycare.com. We look forward to helping you live a healthier life.