Whats The Outlook For Someone Living With Arthritis
Since theres no cure for arthritis, most people need to manage arthritis for the rest of their lives. Your healthcare provider can help you find the right combination of treatments to reduce symptoms. One of the biggest health risks associated with arthritis is inactivity. If you become sedentary from joint pain, you may face a greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other serious conditions.
Joint Pain Or Swelling It Could Be Arthritis Regardless Of Your Age
Youve noticed that your joints seem swollen and a bit painful. They might even be a bit stiff. But youre too young for arthritis, so it must be something else, right? Not exactly.Arthritis can happen to anyone at any age, regardless of gender or race, says Linwood T. Joyner II, M.D., a family medicine physician with Riverside Eastern Shore Family Medicine. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. In the U.S., arthritis is the leading cause of disability. Dr. Joyner explains the different types of arthritis, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and when to see a doctor.
What Are The Signs Of Arthritis In The Hands
May 19, 2021
Achy, swollen hands? Stiffness in your wrists? Its common to assume these are symptoms of arthritis. While 40 million Americans suffer from arthritis, its far less frequent in the hands than people expect. Instead, what many mistake for arthritis is actually tendonitis. Let’s look at the difference between arthritis and other conditions, risk factors and treatments.
Read Also: Is Aleve Good For Arthritis Pain
What Are Common Arthritis Treatments
There are many things that help reduce pain, relieve stiffness and keep you moving. Your care may involve more than one kind of treatment. Your doctor may recommend medications but there are many things you can do on your own to help manage pain and fatigue and move easier.
Finding the right treatment takes time. It can involve trial and error until you and your healthcare team or therapist find what works best. Be sure to let your doctor know if a treatment is not working. Your treatment may also change as your arthritis changes.
Treatments for arthritis can be divided into several categories: medication, exercise, heat/cold, pacing, joint protection, surgery and self-help skills. You can do things in each of these areas to help yourself feel better and move easier.
Changes In Surrounding Joints
In patients with advanced thumb base arthritis, the neighboring joints may become more mobile than normal.
Thumb extension deformity. This patient has lost mobility at the base of the thumb due to arthritis. The next joint closer to the tip of the thumb has become more mobile than normal to make up for the arthritic joint. Normally, the thumb does not come to a right angle with the rest of the hand.
Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Arthritis Flare Up
Spinal Arthritis: What You Need To Know
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis to affect the spine.
Arthritis can occur anywhere along the spine, but is more frequent in the lower back and neck.
Pain and stiffness are the most common symptoms of spinal arthritis.
Causes of spinal arthritis are still largely unknown except for osteoarthritis, which is typically a result of wear and tear.
Spinal arthritis treatment may include pain medications, steroid injections, physical therapy and surgery in severe cases.
General Joint Pain And Stiffness
In addition to morning joint stiffness, you may also experience general joint stiffness throughout the day, especially after a period of inactivity.
Some of the first areas RA stiffness typically affects are the wrists and certain joints in the hands and feet, but its also possible to experience pain and stiffness in your knees or shoulders. Usually, both sides of your body will be affected.
Read Also: Can You Get Arthritis In Your Shoulder Blade
Symptoms By Body Part
The most commonly affected areas during the onset of RA are the small joints in your hands and feet. This is where you may first feel stiffness and an ache.
Its also possible for RA inflammation to affect your knees and hips. Because the disease presents differently in different people, it can go on to affect almost any joint.
Your organs are another area that can be disrupted by RA inflammation:
- Your heart muscle can become damaged.
- Your lungs can become scarred.
- Blood vessel damage can lead to subsequent skin and nerve issues.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks synovium the lining of the joints. Although rheumatoid arthritis is more common in other joints, it can also affect the spine, specifically the cervical region . Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine is not caused by wear and tear, so its considered an inflammatory arthritis. It may cause back pain even when these joints are not in use. It tends to affect women more than men.
Also Check: How To Live With Arthritis Pain
Inflammatory Arthritis Vs Osteoarthritis
Arthritis actually describes over 100 different conditions that affect joints and the surrounding tissue. They fall into two main categories: inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis .
Inflammatory arthritis is a systemic disease in which the mechanisms that normally protect your body attack your own joints and tissues instead. The most well-known example is rheumatoid arthritis , which tends to be symmetrical, meaning you’ll have problems in the same joints on both sides of your body, like both wrists or both knees.
The second type of arthritis and the most common form is osteoarthritis. A degenerative disorder, it’s caused by trauma or age-related wear and tear on your joints over time. OA is most likely to affect weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hip, lower spine or big toe, but it can also cause pain and stiffness in your thumb or finger joints.
Here are some early arthritis symptoms that should prompt you to see a medical provider.
1. Pain in a joint. Pain or aching in a joint that gradually becomes worse over time is a classic symptom of arthritis, says Lisa Cannada, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgeon at Novant Health in Charlotte, North Carolina. The pain may be triggered by activity, or it may set in after activity or at the end of a long day.
AARP Membership $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
When Do The Signs Of Ra Start
Rheumatoid arthritis affects 1.3 million people in the United States. It is 2.5 times more common in women. RA often affects people between the ages of 20 and 50, but young children and older adults can also have RA.
Younger adults and older adults, who make up a smaller number of the people RA, often have a different disease course than people in middle adulthood.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Develop Rheumatoid Arthritis
Points To Remember About Arthritis
- “Arthritis” means joint inflammation. Although joint inflammation is a symptom or sign rather than a specific diagnosis, the term arthritis is often used to refer to any disorder that affects the joints.
- There are many types of arthritis, including ankylosing spondylitis, gout, juvenile arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Medications and surgery can treat arthritis.
- Activities that can help reduce symptoms at home include exercise hot and cold therapies relaxation therapies splints and braces and assistive devices.
What Are The Early Signs Of Arthritis In The Hands
The early symptoms of arthritis may vary depending on several factors such as the type of arthritis, age of the individual and which joint is involved.
Some of the early signs and symptoms of hand arthritis include
- Stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning
- Pain or ache in the affected area
- Swelling at the affected site
- The skin over the affected joint that may appear red and inflamed
- Loss of function of the involved joint or muscle
- A grating sensation or popping sound when the joint moves
- Loss of muscle mass at the affected site
- Presence of small, bony bump-like swellings on the hand
- The skin over the affected joint may be warm to the touch
- Psoriatic arthritis
- Deformities in the affected hands and fingers
- Fever, if the arthritis is due to an infection
Don’t Miss: Is Bengay Good For Arthritis Pain
What Is Septic Arthritis
If your cat suddenly develops arthritis, it is quite likely to be which is caused by a range of organisms including bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Septic arthritis causes painful joint inflammation from the bodys attempt to fight these infectious agents. Septic arthritis is different than typical arthritis because it does not develop gradually due to age-related changes that include wear and tear on the joints.
Septic arthritis commonly affects a cats wrist, knee, and ankle joints, and the infection can potentially spread to other parts of the body. When the disease-causing micro-organism enters your cats joint, it not only damages the bone and cartilage, but it can also affect the surrounding tendons, ligaments, and muscles.
Why Do Joints Make Popping And Cracking Noises
Joints can make different noises–some are serious and some are not.
Some people learn how to “pop their knuckles.” By pushing or pulling a joint in a certain way an air bubble can suddenly appear in the joint with a “pop.” Once the bubble is there the joint cannot be popped again until the air has been reabsorbed.
Some joints crack as the ligaments and tendons that pass over them slide past bumps on the bones. Individuals who “crack their neck” make noise in this way.
Other joints lock up intermittently–often with a loud pop–because something gets caught in between the joint surfaces. A torn cartilage in the knee or a loose piece of bone or cartilage in the joint can do this. Once a joint is stuck in this way, it may need to be wiggled around to unlock it. This may also cause a pop.
Finally joints that are arthritic may crack and grind. These noises usually occur each time the joint is moved. This noise is due to the roughness of the joint surface due to loss of the smooth cartilage.
Don’t Miss: Is Pineapple Good For Arthritis Pain
How Is Spinal Arthritis Treated
The treatment for spinal arthritis depends on many factors. They may include your age, level of pain, type and severity of arthritis and personal health goals. Because the joint damage caused by arthritis is irreversible, the treatment usually focuses on managing pain and preventing further damage.
Nonsurgical treatments for spinal arthritis may include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids to reduce pain and swelling
Other medications targeting specific symptoms or triggers of inflammatory arthritis
Physical therapy to improve back muscle strength and range of motion in the spine
Lifestyle changes to reduce inflammation or stress on your spine: losing weight, quitting smoking, changing your posture, etc.
Can Imaging Exams Detect Arthritis
Imaging exams can help your healthcare provider get a clear picture of your bones, joints and soft tissues. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound can reveal:
- Bone fractures or dislocations that may be causing you joint pain.
- Cartilage breakdown around your joints.
- Muscle, ligament or tendon injuries near your joints.
- Soft tissue inflammation.
You May Like: What Organs Does Psoriatic Arthritis Affect
How Is Spinal Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use some or all of the following diagnostic methods to confirm spinal arthritis:
Medical history and physical exam
Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
X-rays of the spine to locate the arthritic joint
MRI, CT scan, myelography, bone scan and/or ultrasound to zero in on the damage, detect nerve and spinal cord involvement or rule out other causes
Joint aspiration: testing of the synovial fluid inside a joint
To pinpoint the painful joint, your doctor may numb it with an injection and check whether the pain goes away.
What Are The Parts Of A Joint
Joints get cushioned and supported by soft tissues that prevent your bones from rubbing against each other. A connective tissue called articular cartilage plays a key role. It helps your joints move smoothly without friction or pain.
Some joints have a synovial membrane, a padded pocket of fluid that lubricates the joints. Many joints, such as your knees, get supported by tendons and ligaments. Tendons connect muscles to your bones, while ligaments connect bones to other bones.
Also Check: What Foods Should You Not Eat If You Have Arthritis
What Is The Patient’s Role In Treating Or Managing Arthritis
The patient is the most important member of the health care team.
The patient plays an important role in his or her medical care. The patient can contribute to the success of a treatment plan by:
- learning about arthritis
- reporting progress and setbacks to health team
- keeping a positive attitude
- developing relationships with the rest of the health care team
Keeping a positive attitude, though sometimes difficult, is an important ingredient in overcoming arthritis. Asking questions and finding out as much as you can about of arthritis and its treatment is important. So talk over your concerns with your doctor. If you still need more information , ask the nurse, physical therapist, social worker, occupational therapist to help you find answers to your questions.
When To See A Doctor
RA can become worse the longer its left untreated. Its important to visit your doctor if youve been living with some of these symptoms for more than a few weeks, especially if youve been noticing joint stiffness that takes a while to loosen up in the mornings.
Even if its not RA, persistent fatigue and a general sense of illness can be the precursor to many inflammation-related issues, so the sooner youre seen by a physician, the better.
Theres no single test that can reveal an RA diagnosis. Instead, youll most likely be diagnosed through blood tests, joint and organ examinations, and X-ray or ultrasound images.
If a positive rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis is found, youll probably be referred to a rheumatologist, a doctor whos had extra training around the treatment of diseases that affect the muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons.
Read Also: How Can You Relieve Arthritis Pain
Can Arthritis Cause Numbness
Numbness is often a symptom of nerve involvement. For instance, numbness in the arm may be related to nerve irritation in the neck. In such a situation, turning or bending the head to the involved side may increase the symptoms. For example, a pinched nerve in the right side of the neck may cause numbness in the arm and hand when a person attempts to look back over the right shoulder. If nerve irritation becomes more severe, the arm and hand may become weak. A physical examination X-rays and an MRI of the neck and electrodiagnostic tests may be useful in establishing the diagnosis.
Causes Of Spinal Arthritis
Spinal arthritis is typically the result of years of wear and tear that has caused deterioration of the joints and cartilage along the spine. Regrettably, we still do not know exactly why this happens. Even those who have taken good care of themselves are at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the spine.
However, there are several risk factors that may make you more susceptible to spinal arthritis:
- Spinal trauma or injury
- Other conditions such as diabetes, Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gout, psoriasis, or tuberculosis
Recommended Reading: Can Sugar Make Arthritis Worse
What Are The Different Types Of Arthritis
Arthritis is a broad term that describes more than 100 different joint conditions. The most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis, or wear and tear arthritis, which develops when joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress. Its the most common form of arthritis.
- Ankylosing spondylitis, or arthritis of the spine .
- Juvenile arthritis , a disorder where the immune system attacks the tissue around joints. JA typically affects children 16 or younger.
- Gout, a disease that causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints.
- Psoriatic arthritis, joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis .
- Rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack synovial membranes in your joints.
Reduced Ranged Of Motion
In early RA, the joints are only mildly restricted. As RA advances, limited range of motion results from swelling and weakness in the joints.
Joint movement becomes harder, and balance is affected. The reduced range of motion might also cause limping and losses of coordination, grip, and dexterity, even in the early stages.
You May Like: What Causes Sudden Arthritis Flare Ups
How Do Doctors Diagnose Hand Arthritis
Diagnosis of hand arthritis by a doctor may involve:
- Detailed medical history: The doctor may ask questions about the patients symptoms including their onset and severity, any underlying health conditions, any history of injury or surgery and family history of any related health conditions. The doctor may also ask the patient if they are on any medications or supplements.
- Physical examination: A thorough physical examination will be done to look for
- Signs of arthritis in any other part of the body
- Weakness of the affected joint and muscles
- Any signs of injuries or trauma