Arthritis Symptoms & Treatment

Arthritis, a term you’ve probably heard before, affects millions of people worldwide. There are many different types that each can affect individuals differently. But what exactly is arthritis, and how does it impact the lives of those who have it? And if you are suffering from arthritis of any kind, how can it be treated?

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is not a single disease but a term used to describe inflammation of the joints. It’s a condition that can affect people of all ages, from children to seniors. Arthritis can come in man different forms but each of them are known to cause joint pain to those who have arthritis. 

Types of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA): This is the most common type of arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. OA often affects weight-bearing joints like knees, hips, and spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): RA is an autoimmune disorder that primarily targets the synovium (lining) of the joints, causing inflammation and pain. It can affect multiple joints and can be quite debilitating.

Psoriatic Arthritis: This type of arthritis typically occurs in people with psoriasis, a skin condition. It affects joints and may cause inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Ankylosing Spondylitis: Ankylosing spondylitis primarily affects the spine and can lead to stiffness, pain, and even fusion of the spine’s vertebrae.

Gout: Gout is caused by the buildup of uric acid crystals in the joints, often in the big toe. It can result in sudden and severe pain attacks.

Juvenile Arthritis: This term encompasses several types of arthritis that affect children under the age of 16. Symptoms can vary but often include joint pain and swelling.

Common Symptoms

Arthritis symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition, but some common signs include:

  • Joint pain and stiffness, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity.
  • Swelling and tenderness in affected joints.
  • Reduced range of motion.
  • Fatigue.
  • Redness and warmth around the affected joint in some cases.

Treatment Options

Treatment for arthritis can be both surgical or non-surgical depending on how badly the arthritis affects your day to day activities. 

Non-Surgical Treatments:

Non-surgical treatment in most cases only treats the symptoms, but cannot correct the cause of arthritic pain or discomfort. Common nonsurgical treatments for arthritis may include medications, both over the counter or prescription, physical therapy, lifestyle, and dietary changes. 

Lifestyle changes in particular, such as maintaining a healthy weight or increasing physical activity if you are inactive, can make a big difference in arthritic pain.

Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can help manage pain and inflammation.

Physical Therapy: Exercises and stretches can improve joint function and reduce pain.

Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and using assistive devices can make a big difference.

Dietary Changes: For conditions like gout, dietary modifications to reduce uric acid intake may be recommended.

Surgical Treatments:

Surgical treatment for arthritis is an option if arthritic pain becomes overbearing or begins to inconvenience daily life. You and your doctor will work closely to determine what the best treatment is based on your condition.  

Common forms of surgical treatment for arthritis include: 

  • Joint replacement
  • Synovectomy
  • Arthroscopy
  • Fusion Surgery

The type of procedure that is performed is based upon the type of arthritis that you have.

How Common is Arthritis?

Arthritis is remarkably common. According to the World Health Organization, over 350 million people worldwide have some form of arthritis. In the United States alone, more than 54 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis, making it a leading cause of disability.

Arthritis is a widespread condition that can affect anyone, and its impact can range from mild discomfort to significant disability. Understanding the types, symptoms, and available treatment options is crucial for managing this condition effectively. If you or a loved one is dealing with arthritis, don’t hesitate to consult the medical professionals at Monterey Spine & Joint for a personalized approach to treatment and pain management.