What’s New In Arthritis Research
Progress is so fast in some areas of arthritis research today that the media often report new findings before the medical journal with the information reaches your doctor’s office. As a result, you need to know how to evaluate reports on new arthritis research.
Arthritis researchers are looking at four broad areas of research. These include causes, treatments, education and prevention.
Researchers are learning more about certain conditions. For example in osteoarthritis, researchers are looking for signs of early destruction of cartilage and ways to rebuild it. For rheumatoid arthritis and other types that involve inflammation, researchers are trying to understand the steps that lead to inflammation and how it can be slowed or stopped. An initial study suggests that fibromyalgia affects more older people than originally thought and often may be overlooked in this group. Your doctor can tell you about other new research findings. If you would like to take part in arthritis research, ask your doctor for a referral to a study in your area.
Many people help make arthritis research possible. The federal government through its National Institutes of Health is the largest supporter of arthritis research. Drug companies do the most research on new medications.
What Are The Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis most often affects areas in or around joints. Joints are parts of the body where bones meet such as your knee. The ends of the bones are covered by cartilage, a spongy material that acts as a shock absorber to keep bones from rubbing together. The joint is enclosed in a capsule called the synovium. The synoviums lining releases a slippery fluid that helps the joint move smoothly and easily. Muscles and tendons support the joint and help you move. Different types of arthritis can affect one or more parts of a joint. This often results in a change of shape and alignment in the joints.
Certain types of arthritis can also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. It is important to know which type of arthritis you have so you can treat it properly. If you dont know which type you have, call your doctor or ask during your next visit. Some common types of arthritis are described below.
Ankylosing Spondylitis In The Neck
Like rheumatoid arthritis, this condition is marked by inflammation in the joints. But there are some differences between the two diseases.
With ankylosing spondylitis, the bodys own immune system turns against the ligaments and tendons around the spine, Dr. Shah says. As the ankylosing spondylitis progresses, additional stiffness can ensue.
In very severe cases, the bones of the spine may grow together, causing a forward curvature of the spine and possibly disability.
Symptoms typically appear in the hips and lower back before occurring in the neck, Dr. Shah adds. This type of arthritis affects the whole neck.
Unlike osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis has no known cause.
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What Are The Differences Between Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
The main difference between these two types of arthritis is the cause of the joint pain and symptoms. Osteoarthritis is mainly due to the mechanical wear-and-tear placed on the joints, and it happens over the course of ones life. Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease that attacks the joints.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. It is a degenerative disease and is mainly caused by aging. However, obesity can also cause it and make it worse. Carrying extra weight puts more stress and strain on your joints, and the extra fat tissue produces proteins that can trigger a harmful inflammatory response in your joints.
With the development of OA, the cartilage at the ends of your bones deteriorates from wear and tear. Cartilage is a protective cushion that helps bones in joints move and glide smoothly. With the loss of this protective tissue, bone begins to grind against bone.This leads to pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of range of motion, and a grating sensation in the joint. Common joints affected include knees, kip, and hands.
Your arthritis doctor can diagnosis the condition through X-rays and MRI imaging. Blood tests may also be performed to help provide a more complete diagnosis. Unfortunately, the damage from OA cant be reversed. However, pain can be effectively managed through treatments such as exercise, physical therapy, surgery, cortisone injections, medication, and lifestyle changes.
Spinal Arthritis Causes And Risk Factors
The causes of arthritis in the back or neck vary depending on the type of arthritis you have. Besides normal wear and tear and autoimmune triggers, in many cases the exact cause remains unknown. Genetic components have been identified in connection with some forms of spinal arthritis, meaning that it may be hereditary.
Other spinal arthritis risk factors include:
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How Is Arthritis In The Neck Diagnosed
Following a review of your medical history, your doctor will conduct a physical exam wherein he or she will evaluate the following:
- touch sensation
If necessary, your doctor may order one or more diagnostic imaging tests. These can include X-rays, a CT scan, an MRI, or myelography.
An X-rays will reveal the alignment of the bones in your neck and can document degenerative changes in your cervical spine.
Because it shows 3D images, a CT scan offers a more-detailed look at your spinal canal than an X-ray, which may reveal bone spurs.
An MRI provides a detailed look at the soft tissues in the neck, so your doctor can determine whether damage to these tissues might be causing your symptoms.
Myelography is a type of imaging test that uses an X-ray or CT scan and contrast dye to get a picture of the spinal cord and nerve roots in the spinal canal.
Your doctor also may perform a nerve function test.
Nerve function tests, such as a nerve conduction study and/or electromyography , can be conducted to determine if the nerve signals are being transmitted to the individuals muscles, Dr. Singh says.
How Is Arthritis Diagnosed And Evaluated
When diagnosing arthritis, your doctor will likely do a complete physical examination of your entire body, including your spine, joints, skin and eyes. You may undergo blood tests to detect markers of inflammation. In cases where an infection or gout is suspected, it may be useful to draw some fluid from a joint with a needle in order to analyze the contents of the material. In addition, your physician may order one or more of the following imaging tests:
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Should I See A Doctor
Its common to have aches and pains in your muscles and joints from time to time. This may especially be true if you take part in unusual or strenuous physical activities.
So, how can you tell the difference between the early signs of arthritis and normal pain and stiffness? And, how do you know when you should see a doctor about your symptoms?
If you have swelling or stiffness that you cant explain and that doesnt go away in a few days, or if it becomes painful to touch your joints, you should see a doctor. The earlier you get a diagnosis and start the right type of treatment, the better the outcome will be.
Here are some other things to think about that might help you decide whether you need to see a doctor:
Does Rheumatoid Arthritis Cause Fatigue
Everyones experience of rheumatoid arthritis is a little different. But many people with RA say that fatigue is among the worst symptoms of the disease.
Living with chronic pain can be exhausting. And fatigue can make it more difficult to manage your pain. Its important to pay attention to your body and take breaks before you get too tired.
What are rheumatoid arthritis flare symptoms?
The symptoms of a rheumatoid arthritis flare arent much different from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. But people with RA have ups and downs. A flare is a time when you have significant symptoms after feeling better for a while. With treatment, youll likely have periods of time when you feel better. Then, stress, changes in weather, certain foods or infections trigger a period of increased disease activity.
Although you cant prevent flares altogether, there are steps you can take to help you manage them. It might help to write your symptoms down every day in a journal, along with whats going on in your life. Share this journal with your rheumatologist, who may help you identify triggers. Then you can work to manage those triggers.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Psa
Beyond the classic symptoms of arthritis, including painful and swollen joints, PsA presents itself with a number of symptoms. If you are living with PsA, you may have one or several of these symptoms during flare-ups. Additionally, the presence of psoriasis is also a classic symptom of PsA. Though, in a small percentage of individuals who live with PsA, no symptoms of psoriasis appear at all. In the overwhelming majority of cases, even if no psoriasis is present, there is a family history of it.
Some of the more common symptoms of PsA include:
- Joint pain and inflammation
How Can You Treat Arthritis Pain
Arthritis treatment depends on the type of arthritis you have. So, the first step is to get an accurate diagnosis. Your age when you first develop arthritis and the joints involved can help diagnose the type of arthritis you have. X-rays and blood tests can also help. Its possible to have both inflammatory arthritis and noninflammatory arthritis.
If you have osteoarthritis, medications like ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen can help reduce pain. Treatment for inflammatory or autoimmune arthritis includes steroids, disease-modifying antirheumatic agents and biologic medications that can decrease inflammation.
Eating a healthy diet can help decrease pain and inflammation. And maintaining a healthy weight is essential since excess body weight can make a big difference in the pain you feel in weight-bearing joints like the hips, knees and spine.
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What Is Arthritis Of The Hand
Arthritis is a disease that attacks the tissues of your joints. A joint is where two bones meet. Arthritis can attack the lining of your joint or the cartilage, the smooth covering at the ends of bones. Eventually the cartilage breaks down, the ends of your bones become exposed, rub against each other and wear away. You have many joints in your hand, therefore its a common site for arthritis to happen.
Arthritis of the hand causes pain and swelling, stiffness and deformity. As arthritis progresses, you cant use your hands to manage everyday tasks as you once could.
Sign #3 Your Knees Lock Up Or Buckle
One classic way to know if you have arthritis in the knee is if your knees are starting to buckle, or have problems supporting your weight. They can also lock into position and you will not be able to bend them. This can make going up and down stairs, or just walking very difficult. It can also be a painful experience, but most people describe it more as an ache. It can become a dangerous event if your knees start to buckle repeatedly and you fall. This is a sign that you should see a doctor soon to prevent a fall injury.
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What Outcome Can I Expect If I Have Arthritis In My Hands
There is no cure for arthritis. However, you can usually manage mild to moderate symptoms with a combination of medication and non-medication approaches. Surgery may be an option if other treatments fail or the arthritis in your hands is severe. Your healthcare provider will explain what outcome you can expect for your type and severity of arthritis, your age, other existing medical conditions and other factors.
Gout And Calcium Crystal Diseases
Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis that can cause painful swelling in joints. It typically affects the big toe, but it can also affect other joints in the body.
Joints affected by gout can become red and hot. The skin may also look shiny and can peel.
Its caused by having too much urate, otherwise known as uric acid, in the body. We all have a certain amount of urate in our body.
However, being overweight or eating and drinking too much of certain types of food and alcoholic drinks can cause some people to have more urate in their bodies. The genes you inherit can make you more likely to develop gout.
If it reaches a high level, urate can form into crystals that remain in and around the joint. They can be there for a while without causing any problems and even without the person realising they are there.
A knock to a part of the body or having a fever can lead to the crystals falling into the soft part of the joint. This will cause pain and swelling.
There are drugs that can reduce the amount of urate in the body and prevent gout attacks. Examples are allopurinol and . If youre having a gout attack, youll also need short-term pain relief. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as well as paracetamol can be good drugs to try first.
Men can get gout from their mid-20s, and in women its more common after the menopause. Taking water tablets can increase the risk of gout.
There are also conditions that cause calcium crystals to form in and around joints.
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How Arthritis In The Hands Is Treated
If youre diagnosed with an inflammatory form of arthritis, you have more treatment options than someone with OA. While nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can help manage the pain of both types of arthritis, the development of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics has vastly improved the prognosis of those with inflammatory forms of arthritis by reducing inflammation and preventing further joint damage.
Cortisone injections can be useful for those with OA and conditions such as RA, though theyre usually used in patients whose inflammatory arthritis is limited to just one or two joints, Dr. Byram says. Injections of hyaluronic acid can be helpful for those with OA , but these are better for managing pain in larger joints like the knees rather than the hands.
How Arthritis In The Back Is Treated
Treatment for back arthritis depends on many factors, including your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis, other medical conditions and medications, and personal health goals. Because joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Arthritis
Some factors make you more likely to develop arthritis, including:
- Age: The risk of arthritis increases as you get older.
- Lifestyle: Smoking or a lack of exercise can increase your risk of arthritis.
- Sex: Most types of arthritis are more common in women.
- Weight: Obesity puts extra strain on your joints, which can lead to arthritis.
What Are The First Signs Of Arthritis In Your Hands
If you are having pain in your hands and it is frequent, you may have arthritis. Having persistent pains in your hands is one of the signs of arthritis, and another possible cause of pain could be carpal tunnel.
Arthritis can cause joint destruction if it is severe. Knowing the signs of arthritis will help you get your hands treated quickly. The faster you get it treated, the better.
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Do Certain Types Of Weather Make Arthritis Worse
Some people find that arthritis feels worse during certain types of weather. Humidity and cold are two common triggers of joint pain.
There are a variety of reasons why this might happen. People tend to be less active in rainy seasons and the wintertime. The cold and damp can also stiffen joints and aggravate arthritis. Other theories suggest that barometric pressure, or the pressure of the air around us, may have some effect on arthritis.
If you find that certain types of weather make your arthritis worse, talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage your symptoms. Dressing warmly, exercising inside or using heat therapy may help relieve your pain.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints. There are many types of arthritis, all of which can cause pain and reduce mobility. Some forms of arthritis result from natural wear and tear. Other types come from autoimmune diseases or inflammatory conditions. There are a variety of treatments for arthritis, ranging from physical or occupational therapy to joint surgery. Your healthcare provider will assess your symptoms and recommend the right treatment plan for your needs. Most people can successfully manage arthritis and still do the activities they care about.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/15/2021.
What Symptoms Look And Feel Like And What To Do If You Cant Shake The Ache
by Michelle Crouch, AARP, February 18, 2020| 0
En español | Its not unusual to experience pain in your joints on occasion, especially if youre active and participate in high-impact activities such as running. That unwanted ouch can be caused by injured muscles, tendons and ligaments around the joint, by tendonitis or by a sprain or a strain.
But if you start experiencing aching, pain and stiffness on a routine basis and particularly if the pain is right at the joint you may be developing arthritis, says rheumatologist Uzma Haque, codirector of clinical operations at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore.
The cardinal feature of arthritis is a swollen joint, Haque says. However, pain, discomfort and stiffness can be early signs.
Haque recommends paying attention to what triggers your symptoms: If you walk a block and consistently have aching in your right knee, but it improves when you sit down, thats when you should think, Do I need a medical evaluation?
And yes, you might need to book that appointment even if youre well under 50. Arthritis doesnt only affect older people. Although your risk increases as you age, more than half of arthritis patients are younger than 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Its a leading cause of disability in the U.S., affecting around 54 million people.
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