Arthritis is actually not a single disease; it is a description of about 100 diseases that affect the joints and cause pain, stiffness and deformity. It is the most common cause of disability in the United States and has been diagnosed in over 50 million adults and 300,000 children. Although arthritis can affect anybody, it is most common in older women. Early arthritis treatments can help you control your symptoms before they become severe.
Types of Arthritis
Osteoarthritis or degenerative arthritis is the most common type of this condition. As the cartilage between the joints erodes, the bones rub against one another and cause stiffness, pain and swelling. If left untreated, the condition can become chronic and the pain can become permanent.
Mild or moderate osteoarthritis can be treated at home with over-the-counter medications, various assistive devices and heating or ice pads. The patient should also exercise regularly to maintain or improve their mobility and keep a healthy weight. In severe cases, though, the patient may need to undergo surgery to replace the damaged joints.
Inflammatory arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the joints. Psoriatic arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the more common types of inflammatory arthritis. Inflammatory arthritis is aggressive, so early diagnosis and treatment are critical. In rheumatoid arthritis, for example, most of the joint damage develops within the first two years of the disease. Aggressive early arthritis treatments can prevent the condition from becoming more severe and may even reverse it. Inflammatory arthritis can affect young patients. Most people with rheumatoid arthritis develop the condition when they are between 30 and 50 years old.
Gout or metabolic arthritis is caused by abnormally high levels of uric acid. Some people either produce too much uric acid and/or their body can’t process it quickly enough. Either way, the uric acid accumulates and creates needle-shaped crystals between the joints. Those crystals cause gout attacks or acute episodes of severe pain. Untreated gout can eventually become chronic and cause continuous disability and pain. This is why early arthritis treatments are vital for this condition.
How is Arthritis Diagnosed?
A patient who suspects they have arthritis can come to us for diagnosis and proper treatment. We will start by taking a very detailed medical history. In addition to asking about the patient’s symptoms, we will ask about the patient’s health history because previous illnesses and injuries can sometimes increase the chances of developing arthritis. We will want to know about all aspects of the patient’s life, like their job or whether they play sports, that can increase the risk of developing a given type of arthritis. This will help us develop a better treatment plan for you.
We will look for swelling or deformity in the joints by moving them back and forth to evaluate their stiffness and mobility. If we suspect the patient has a type of inflammatory arthritis, we will begin early arthritis treatments as soon as possible.
Early arthritis treatments can mean the difference between a healthy, active life and severely malformed, distressed joints. If you have or believe you may have inflammatory arthritis, visit the Arthritis & Osteoporosis Clinic of Brazos Valley to receive appropriate treatment. Contact us today at our office in College Station to schedule a consultation for early arthritis treatments.