Should I See A Doctor About Arthritis
Many people think that nothing can be done about arthritis pain. They think they need to figure out how to live with it â perhaps just like their parents did. For that reason, they think there is no reason to see a doctor. But thatâs not true. If you have a joint that continually aches, you should definitely see your doctor. Treatment can ease your discomfort and may also prevent it from getting worse. In some cases, irreversible joint damage occurs within the first 2 years after arthritis has started. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment can really pay off and are critical to your overall quality of life. Hereâs why.
- The pain from arthritis can cause you to stop moving as much as you would have. That can make your muscles weak. Progressive muscle weakness can lead to increasingly less stable joints, poor muscle reflexes, and tiredness.
- Painful, stiff joints can interrupt balance and make it easier to fall. Because it becomes increasingly harder to recuperate from falls as you age, itâs key to avoid falling.
- Keeping your joints in one position for too long because they are achy or painful may cause you to lose the ability to fully straighten them out. This is known as a contracture.
- As arthritis worsens, it can impact every part of your life. It can limit your ability to participate in daily household chores, in your work, and in pleasurable social activities.
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Osteoarthritis Of The Hands
Get more information about the causes, symptoms and treatments of hand OA, which is very common and can be debilitating.
About half of all women and one-quarter of all men will experience the stiffness and pain of osteoarthritis of the hands by the time they are 85 years old. A degenerative disease that affects all the tissues of a joint, OA leads to the breakdown over time of the smooth, protective cartilage on the ends of bones, so bones rub together, causing pain. The 29 bones of your hands and wrists come together to form many small joints that can be affected by OA.
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Other Treatment Options If You Struggle With Finding A Rheumatologist
There has been a shortage of rheumatologists in America as well as many other developed countries for the last decade, and its likely to get worse before it gets better, says Vinicius Domingues, MD, a rheumatologist in Daytona Beach, Florida, and medical advisor to CreakyJoints, an advocacy, education, and support group for people living with arthritis and rheumatic disease. But that doesnt mean that you cant get good treatment from your primary care physician if thats what your situation requires. The advancement in the medical communitys understanding about the causes and the treatments of arthritic conditions, as well as the evolution of telemedicine, has allowed primary care physicians to diagnose and treat most common forms of arthritis, says Ginsberg.
Dr. Domingues also thinks there could be a positive future for telehealth, which is when patients receive health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.
It will never replace an in-person doctor, but it may be an option for the future. And the American College of Rheumatology has good support groups. CreakyJoints also has forums and resources that should be explored, says Domingues.
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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.
Which Joints In The Hand Are Affected
The index and middle fingers and the thumb are the parts of the hand most commonly affected. Many people find that the hand they use most is affected more than the other.
When the fingers are affected, it may be in the joints closest to the fingernails or the ones in the middle of the fingers. Its less common to have osteoarthritis in the large knuckle joints, where the fingers meet the hand.
The joint at the base of the thumb can also be affected by osteoarthritis. And occasionally the wrist joint may be affected.
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You Have Arthritis Pain Along With Other Conditions
Many people deal with some type of arthritis along with other conditions, like GERD or stomach ulcers. But if this is your case, be especially careful with self-medication.
Heres why: Many times, drugs to treat pain and inflammation conflict with drugs to treat other conditions. For example, long-term use of non-steroidal antiinflammatories can make digestive issues like ulcers worse, especially if youre taking a proton pump inhibitor for heartburn or GERD. Likewise, many pain medications raise your risk levels if you have heart disease or be dangerous if you have kidney disease.
If you take multiple drugs for multiple conditions, check with a doctor before treating your arthritis on your own, Dr. Burg recommends. Without proper guidance, adding more medications to the mix might do more harm than good.
Can An Internal Medicine Doctor Care For My Arthritis
If you are experiencing pain, stiffness, and swelling in your fingers, hands, wrists, hips, knees, or ankles, it may be arthritis. You should consult with a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment plan.
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for arthritis. However, working closely with your doctor and following an appropriate treatment plan can help you control your symptoms and live a happy, active, and worthwhile life. The question is: which doctor should you see for arthritis?
If you have arthritis, you have a few choices when it comes to choosing a doctor for treatment. Orthopedic physicians can treat arthritis because they are specialists in the bodys musculoskeletal system. Another choice is to see an internal medicine doctor. Internal medicine doctors diagnose, treat, and prevent all types of diseases and conditions in adults, including arthritis.
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After An Arthritis Diagnosis
After diagnosis, a nurse educator or a health care provider who understands arthritis can educate you on your medication plan and how to manage your arthritis on a day-to-day basis. These health care professionals can also direct you to helpful resources, such as those provided by the Arthritis Foundation, including information on arthritis and daily living as well as community contacts.
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What To Expect At A First Visit
A routine appointment with a rheumatologist varies depending on the condition or complaint they are helping to treat. A standard appointment may include a rheumatologist:
- reviewing a persons medical and family histories as well as the results of any previous testing or laboratory work
- performing a physical exam to look for any signs of systemic inflammation
- evaluating posture, movement, and flexibility
- examining any specific joints, muscles, or bones that feel swollen, stiff, or painful
- ordering blood work or other laboratory tests, such as an X-ray or MRI scan, to provide clinical diagnosis
- making treatment recommendations, or waiting to review the lab work before recommending medications or physical therapy
- providing a clinical outlook, plans of care, and short- and long-term goals
- recommending self-management tips and home exercises
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Assessing Your Physical Ability
If you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, your specialist will do an assessment to see how well you’re coping with everyday tasks.
You may be asked to fill in a questionnaire on how well you can do things like dress, walk and eat, and how good your grip strength is.
This assessment may be repeated after your treatment, to see if you have made any improvements.
What Is A Rheumatologist
A rheumatologist is a doctor who treats conditions related to the bones, joints, and muscles. These often include autoimmune diseases such as gout, lupus, and various forms of arthritis.
Though the precise underlying causes of autoimmune diseases arent fully understood, they are thought to be related to the body attacking its own healthy tissues. Over time, untreated autoimmune diseases can also damage your organs, eyes, and nervous system. The goal of a rheumatologist is to come up with a treatment plan to reduce the damaging inflammation caused by related autoimmune diseases.
Its important to note that while autoimmune diseases, like arthritis, can cause symptoms of the skin, rheumatologists work to treat the underlying inflammation that causes them. This differs from a dermatologist, who can treat the skin problems at the surface level. Rheumatologists use drugs that target inflammation so the body stops attacking healthy tissues. These come in the form of biologics, corticosteroids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs .
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Role Of The Primary Care Doctor
Your primary care doctor will able to make an initial assessment following a physical examination. They can order X-rays, blood tests, or any other diagnostic tests needed to support his initial assessment. Your primary care doctor can also prescribe medications to relieve pain and other arthritis symptoms.
After test results come back and enough time has passed to evaluate how you are doing on the prescribed medications, your doctor may decide that they can handle your case. If not, they may decide to refer you to a specialist in arthritis diseases known as a rheumatologist.
What Is Hand And Wrist Arthritis
Hand and wrist arthritis is characterized by inflammation and swelling in the hand and wrist joints, which can cause severe pain and joint damage without proper treatment and care. The types of arthritis that commonly affect hands and wrists include:
- Osteoarthritis of the hands and wrists The natural aging process can wear away at the protective cartilage that allows the many bones in your hand and wrist to move smoothly, causing inflammation, swelling, and pain.
- Rheumatoid arthritis of the hands and wrists This immune system condition attacks and wears away the cartilage lining between the small, delicate bones in your hand and wrist. Rheumatoid arthritis generally affects the joints on both hands or both wrists.
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Treatments For Hand Oa
- Non-Drug Treatments: Reducing strain on joints with a splint or brace, adapting hand movements, doing hand exercises or using hot or cold therapy can help to ease pain.
- Drug Treatments: Medicines to ease OA symptoms are available as pills, syrups, creams or lotions, or they are injected into a joint. They include pain relievers like acetaminophen, counterirritants like capsaicin or menthol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and corticosteroids.
- Surgical Treatments: If medications or self-care activities fails to give relief, surgery may be an option. An orthopaedic surgeon can remove the damaged cartilage and fuse bones together or replace the damaged joint with a plastic, ceramic or metal implant.
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What Are Bone Spurs
Bone spurs are of two basic types. One is the kind that arises near a joint with osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. In this situation, the cartilage has been worn through and the bone responds by growing extra bone at the margins of the joint surface. These “spurs” carry the formal name “osteophytes.” They are common features of the osteoarthritic shoulder, elbow, hip, knee and ankle. Removing these osteophytes is an important part of joint replacement surgery but removing them without addressing the underlying arthritis is usually not effective in relieving symptoms.
The second type of bone spur is the kind that occurs when the attachment of ligaments or tendons to bone become calcified. This can occur on the bottom of the foot around the Achilles Tendon and in the coroacoacromial ligament of the shoulder. These spurs often look impressive on X-rays, but because they are in the substance of the ligaments rarely cause sufficient problems to merit excision.
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Arthritis In Knees Pain Relief
For most patients, a less invasive approach to treatment is recommended initially. This may include medications, steroid injections, or either occupational or physical therapy. If these prove to be ineffective for your knee pain, then Dr. Williams may discuss more intensive forms of treatment to alleviate your pain and discomfort, and to restore mobility. During a consultation, Dr. Williams uses diagnostic imaging tests, such as X-rays, an MRI, or CT scans, to obtain a comprehensive view of your joints. This allows him to create the best possible treatment plan to make sure you get knee pain relief.
Most patients need a series of treatments or follow-up care to achieve the best possible results. Dr. Williams may also recommend you complete occupational or physical therapy to strengthen and increase mobility in your treated joints.
These Doctors May Be Your Doctor For Life
Some specialists consult on your diagnosis and treatment plan, then send you back to your primary care doctor for most follow-up care. Not true for rheumatologists.
After making sure we have the right diagnosis, we obtain the appropriate lab work to make sure youre safe starting medication, and then see you every two to three months. Some people require less frequent follow-up, but we typically see patients more than their primary care doctors. In fact, we might become their primary care doctors, says rheumatologist Liana Fraenkel, MD, MPH, adjunct professor of medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine.
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How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Treated
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on the severity of your condition.
Boththe skin condition and the joint inflammation are treated. Early diagnosis andtreatment helps prevent joint damage. Some medicines used to treat psoriatic arthritisinclude:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to ease symptoms
- Corticosteroids for inflammation
- Immunosuppressive medicines such as methotrexate to reduce inflammation if NSAIDs donât work
- Biologic medicines to ease inflammation
- Vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D to slow bone deformation
Other treatment may include:
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What Causes Finger Arthritis
Arthritis in fingers develops when the cartilage that cushions the bones located at finger joints gets damaged. The joints are where two bones meet, and due to the damage to the cartilage, the smooth movement between the bones at those points gets affected.
While there is not one single cause that is responsible for the development of arthritis, you are more at risk of getting it if you are :
- Above 35 years old
- Genetically prone
- Carrying any previous injury to your hand, wrist, or fingers
Arthritis in fingers can creep up on anyone, so it is best to know how to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Head on to the next section to find out how.
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Ask Your Rheumatologist Questions
RA is a serious and chronic disease that currently has no known cure. Therefore, its important to understand your condition as best as possible so you can take charge of your personal health.
Dont be afraid to ask your rheumatologist lots of questions about your symptoms, your diseases progress, and the medications typically used to treat RA . Its important to address any concerns you may have about your overall condition and/or the medications you are taking.
The more you know about your RA, the better decisions you can make about which treatment is right for you. And the better decisions you can make, the higher your quality of life will be. So ask your rheumatologist whatever it is you want to know. The only stupid question is the one you dont ask.
Finger Pain Treatment At Home
You can treat finger pain from most causes at home. Repetitive use finger pain will often ease if you stop the activity or change the way you use your hand. If using a mouse hurts your thumb, you may want to switch to a differently shaped mouse or a trackpad, or switch hands. The longer you continue the activity unchecked, the worse the can be and the worse the potential for damage.
Common home care recommendations for finger or injuries are:
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