Family Medicine Healthcare
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is commonly recognized as the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints. The primary symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, and typically worsens with age. Arthritis, although very common, is not well understood. In fact, arthritis is actually not a single disease as it is more an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are over 100 different types of arthritis and conditions related to arthritis. Arthritis can affect people of all ages, sexes and races, and is the leading cause of disability in America. In the United States alone, more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children suffer from some type of arthritis. Arthritis is more common among women, and begins to flare up more frequently as people get older.
What are the Most Common Types of Arthritis?
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but other common types include degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, and metabolic arthritis. You should consult with your doctor, who can help identify the type of arthritis you have and the best treatment options available.
What Causes Arthritis?
When cartilage, which is the cushioning surface on the ends of bones, wears away, bone begins to rub against bone, creating pain, stiffness, and swelling. Excess weight, family history, age and previous injury, are all risk factors.
A healthy immune system generates internal inflammation, to get rid of infection and prevent disease. With inflammatory types of arthritis, the immune system attacks the joints mistakenly, with uncontrolled inflammation, causing joint erosion and pain. Inflammation can also cause damage to internal organs, eyes, and other parts of the body.
Examples of inflammatory arthritis are:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Psoriatic arthritis,
- Ankylosing spondylitis
Inflammatory arthritis occurs when bacteria, a virus, or fungus enters the joint. Examples of organisms that can possibly affect the joints are:
- Salmonella and Shigella (food poisoning or contamination)
- Chlamydia and gonorrhea (sexually transmitted diseases)
- Hepatitis C (blood-to-blood infection, through shared needles or transfusions).
Timely treatment with antibiotics, in most cases, can clear the joint infection, although the possibility exists that the arthritis may become chronic.
Metabolic arthritis is when uric acid builds up, forming needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden jolts of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Some people have high levels of uric acid, which is formed as the body breaks down purines, a substance found in human cells and in many foods. This results in either the body naturally producing more uric acid than is needed, or the body is unable to get rid of it quickly enough.
What are the Symptoms of Arthritis?
The common symptoms of arthritis are joint swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms can come and go, can be mild, moderate or severe. They can remain stable for years, but can progress, or get even worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in an inability to do daily activities, and make it challenging to walk, or even climb stairs. Permanent joint changes can occur with arthritis, and may become visible, however, most often the damage can only be seen on X-rays.
How is Arthritis Treated?
The aim of treatment is to control pain, minimize joint damage, and to improve, or maintain your quality of life. There are a number of treatment options available and commonly include anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapies, exercise and patient education and support. Surgery is sometimes required to correct joint damage.
Family Medicine Healthcare in Chesapeake, VA, helps treat patients with arthritis, so reach out to us today. Our highly skilled and knowledgeable team of healthcare professionals take pride in providing our community members of every age with the highest quality and compassionate healthcare they deserve. Call our healthcare center to set an appointment, or visit our website for more information or for directions. We serve patients from Chesapeake VA, Norfolk VA, Suffolk VA, Virginia Beach VA, Portsmouth VA, and Hampton VA.