Spinal Conditions

Arthritis

Arthritis

Arthritis: inflammation in a joint; causes pain, stiffness, swelling, limited movement. There are a variety of causes.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis manifests as inflammation in one or more joints, leading to pain, stiffness, swelling, and restricted movement. It stands as one of the primary causes of disability in the United States, affecting millions of individuals. While there are over a hundred types of arthritis, the most prevalent ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Causes of Arthritis

Arthritis stems from the deterioration of cartilage, a protective tissue enabling smooth joint movement and shock absorption. When cartilage diminishes, bones within the joint rub against each other, resulting in pain, swelling, and stiffness.

Several factors can contribute to arthritis:

  • Infections triggered by bacteria or viruses
  • Natural degeneration of bones with aging
  • Autoimmune disorders where the body’s immune system targets joints, causing inflammation
  • Joint injuries or fractures

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Arthritis symptoms primarily affect the joints, presenting various signs depending on the arthritis type. Common symptoms include joint pain, morning stiffness, reduced range of motion, skin redness, warmth around the joint, and joint swelling.

During diagnosis, the doctor typically begins with a comprehensive medical history review to ascertain if arthritis or another musculoskeletal issue is the likely cause. Various tests may follow, such as fluid analysis (blood, urine, joint fluid), X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound, or arthroscopy to examine joint damage.

Treatment

Treatment selection hinges on multiple factors including disease cause, inflammation severity, affected joints, and impact on daily activities.

Medications like analgesics, Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), Counterirritants, Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and Corticosteroids are commonly used.

Physical therapy, incorporating specific exercises to enhance joint mobility and strengthen surrounding muscles, can be beneficial. Additionally, doctors may recommend splints or braces in certain cases.

If conservative approaches prove ineffective, surgical options like joint replacement or fusion may be advised to manage arthritis.

All information provided on this website is for information purposes only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice. If you are seeking this information in an emergency situation, please call 911 and seek emergency help.