This is a question we get asked often here at Advanced Care Specialists. Fortunately, we not only have the answers to most of your questions, but we also have successful treatment options for some forms of arthritis.
So back to the original question, what is arthritis? Arthritis is defined as inflammation or swelling of one or more joints. Arthro-, means “joint,” and -itis, means “inflammation” in medical terminology. The most commonly affected areas are the shoulder, knees, and hips. However, arthritis can actually affect any joint in the body, including your spine, hands, or feet. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis, but every case is different meaning patients present with varying symptoms.
The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, but there are several different forms.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of arthritis. Some people call it degenerative joint disease or “wear and tear” arthritis. It occurs most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees. With OA, the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the underlying bone begins to change. Additionally, the loss of synovial fluid may result. Synovial fluid is a viscous fluid found in the cavities of the synovial joints (knees and shoulders). The principal role of synovial fluid is to reduce friction between the articular cartilage of synovial joints during movement. These changes usually develop slowly and get worse over time.
There are several symptoms that may occur with OA, some of the most common symptoms include:
- The joint(s) may become stiff and swollen, making it difficult to bend and straighten.
- Pain and swelling may be worse in the morning, or after sitting or resting.
- Vigorous activity may cause pain to flare up.
- Loose fragments of cartilage and other tissue can interfere with the smooth motion of joints. The knee may “lock” or “stick” during movement. It may creak, click, snap or make a grinding noise (crepitus).
- Pain may cause a feeling of weakness or buckling in the knee.
- Potential increased joint pain with changes in the weather.
There is no cure for OA, so doctors usually treat OA symptoms with a combination of therapies, which may include the following:
- Increasing physical activity
- Physical therapy with muscle-strengthening exercises
- Weight loss
- Supportive devices such as custom fit bracing.
- Joint injections
Here at ACS, we can inject custom healing agents into the damaged area to stimulate soft tissue healing while stabilizing the joint for better function and mobility. For patients seeking an alternative option to medication and physical therapy for joint pain and arthritis, our joint injections may be the solution.
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is another common form of arthritis. RA is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease, which means that your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake, causing inflammation (painful swelling) in the affected parts of the body.
RA mainly attacks the joints, and in lots of cases, many joints at once. RA commonly affects joints in the hands, wrists, and knees. In a joint with RA, the lining of the joint becomes inflamed, causing damage to joint tissue. This tissue damage can cause long-lasting or chronic pain, unsteadiness (lack of balance), and deformity (misshapenness). RA can also cause generalized weakness, fatigue or tiredness, and fevers. Treatment options for RA can be very similar as those for OA, however further management may be warranted depending on presentation and severity.
If you or someone you know are suffering from Osteoarthritis or Rheumatoid Arthritis, please give us a call or schedule your first appointment with us today so you can start achieving your goals again. I look forward to meeting with you.
Haylee Eliasson, NP