Living With Arthritis

Statistics show that an estimated 92.1 million people have either been diagnosed with arthritis or have arthritis-like symptoms. One in three people ages 18-64 in both sexes deal with arthritis, and people over 65 have an even higher number of cases of the condition. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and the joint inflammation and other pains associated with it are a source of frustration for many patients. But, there are ways to manage and relieve symptoms of this condition.

Arthritis can have many negative effects on your daily routine and overall quality of life. Patients in the Hagerstown, Maryland area can rely on the experience and expertise of Christopher D. Clark, MD, and the caring team at Premier Spine and Sports Medicine to help with their arthritis pain.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is a condition where one or more joints suffer swelling and tenderness. This results in joint stiffness and pain, which generally gets worse as people age. Arthritis can have mild symptoms which only come up every once in a while, or severely affect the range of motion of a joint and impact a person’s quality of life. There are many different types of arthritis, but the most common forms are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in your joints, which can happen from normal wear and tear or from injury. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of the immune system that affects the lining of your joints. Other types of arthritis include psoriatic arthritis, gout, reactive arthritis, septic arthritis, and thumb arthritis.

What causes arthritis?

Because there are so many types of arthritis, many factors can contribute to it, including family history, age, injury history, and obesity. Joint injury is a common cause which comes from wear and tear on the cartilage in joints. When the cartilage gets worn down, bone will grind against bone. This causes pain and limits mobility in the joint, and happens over time.

Other types of arthritis come from different causes, but result in similar types of pain. Gout, for example, comes from a buildup of uric acid in the blood that results in joint tenderness and pain. Psoriasis is a skin disease that over time can lead to joint pain. Septic arthritis comes from infections. But the damage to the joints over time is what links them.

How do you manage arthritis?

Managing arthritis means reducing joint pain and restoring mobility to the joint. This can be done in multiple ways:

Therapy

Some forms of arthritis respond well to physical therapy, using exercises to strengthen surrounding muscles and increase joint mobility. Braces or splints may also be used as part of the therapy

Medications

The type of medication used will depend on the type of arthritis or its severity. Over-the-counter options like acetaminophen can work for mild pain, but in more severe cases opioids like tramadol or oxycodone may be prescribed. Other medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and biologic response modifiers.

Surgery

If the other options aren’t effective enough, surgery to the joint may be necessary. Joint repair surgery is used to smooth and realign joint surfaces to improve function and reduce pain. Joint replacement surgery removes damaged material and replaces it with an artificial joint, very common in hips and knees. Joint fusion surgery is used in smaller joints like wrists, ankles, and fingers. It fuses the ends of two bones in the joint to heal as one unit.

Arthritis can be a constant source of pain, but there are treatments available for relief. Call our office or book an appointment online to start treatment today.

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