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Arthritis: Causes and Treatments


Did you know there are over 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions? Over 30 million adults and around 300,000 children have arthritis in the United States. The older we get, the more prone we become to developing arthritis.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis means “joint inflammation,” and it refers to around 200 rheumatoid diseases that affect the tissues around the joint, other connective tissues, and the joint itself. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America.

Arthritis can affect any joint in the body: the knees, hips, fingers, wrists, ankles, feet, back, and neck. The symptoms can be persistent or they might present themselves only every so often.

What causes arthritis?

Arthritis is most common in those 65 years and older, but anyone can be affected – regardless of age, sex, and race. However, it is more likely to be found in women and those who are overweight. Arthritis can be caused by a number of factors: injury, abnormal metabolism, genetic inheritance, infections, certain occupations, and an overactive immune system.

Cartilage is a strong and flexible connective tissue found in the joints. Its role is to absorb the pressure and shock created by the stress from movement to protect the joints. If there is less than normal amount of this cartilage tissue, some forms of arthritis present themselves.

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis and is caused by normal wear and tear. Infections and injuries can cause the cartilage to wear out and break down – putting you at risk for osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is another form of arthritis that is highly present, but it is an autoimmune disorder. An autoimmune disorder is when the body attacks itself. The immune system will attack the soft tissue in your joints – the tissue which creates the fluid to nourish the cartilage and lubricates the joints. This can destroy the cartilage and might even damage the bone.

Some of the common symptoms around the joint include the following:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Warmth
  • Redness

These symptoms can be characterized as mild, moderate, and severe. Everyone is affected differently, and everyone’s bodies may react differently. Severe arthritis can even make it difficult to walk.

Other symptoms are also associated with the various types of arthritis. For example, those with fibromyalgia are likely to experience fatigue, cognitive disabilities, irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorders. However, those with osteoarthritis mostly experience the physical pain symptoms.

What are the treatment options?

The treatment programs will depend on which type of arthritis you have and your current state of health. A doctor is not likely to provide the same treatment for someone with fibromyalgia as they would for someone with rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment options include physical therapy, home remedies, splinting, cold-pack application, paraffin wax dips, anti-inflammatory drugs, pain medications, immune-altering medications, biologic medications, and surgical operations.

If you are experiencing any of these arthritis symptoms for more than a week, it would be beneficial to make an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation. Primary care physicians frequently diagnose and treat common musculoskeletal conditions and straightforward cases of arthritis.

If your primary care physician cannot diagnose or treat your case, they may recommend visiting a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists specialize in diagnosing and treating over 100 different types of arthritis, from straightforward to complex cases. If you eventually need surgery, you may be sent to an orthopedist. You may know orthopedists as orthopedic surgeons. They commonly treat arthritis, especially when surgical management is necessary.

However, surgery is not always necessary. Surgery is usually recommended for more severe cases. Some other doctors who can also help treat your condition are physical therapists and occupational therapists.

A specialist will be able to give you a personalized treatment plan, but there are some things you can begin to start doing for yourself to help with the pain and symptoms. Some self-management activities recommended include eating healthy, staying physically active, and visiting your doctor regularly. Before you change any part of your regimen, consult with your doctor to make sure it will complement your treatment plan.

Gonzaba Urgent Care in San Antonio, Texas

If you are experiencing painful symptoms from arthritis, visit one of the three Gonzaba Urgent Care Centers in San Antonio, Texas. Our doctors will locate the painful area and help you manage the pain. A visit to the emergency room may not always be necessary. Visit the expert doctors at Gonzaba Urgent Care to provide you with the treatment you need – without all the hassle of an emergency room. Call (210) 921-6600 for more information.

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