Your Herbal Supplements Are Probably Garbage
Theres a lot of buzz about natural remedies for RA. While some may be helpful as an add-on to a treatment plan prescribed by a rheumatologist many are snake oil designed to remove your money rather than your pain, says Don R. Martin, MD, of Sentara RMH Rheumatology in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
Patients need to remember that natural does not necessarily mean its healthy. Remember both arsenic and asbestos are naturally occurring substances, he explains. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA the same way prescription and over-the-counter drugs are, so the purity of agents and the quality of scientific studies regarding their effectiveness varies widely, he adds.
Two kinds he says can be effective as part of an overall treatment plan? Capsaicin and turmeric. But make sure your doctor knows about any supplements you take, since some could have an effect on other medications you take.
What Type Of Doctors Treat Arthritis
Part of your treatment plan may involve working with different health-care specialists. Some common health-care professionals and their role in your treatment are described below. Most doctors make referrals to one of a group of health professionals with whom they work. But you too can ask your doctor to request medical services you think might help you.
Your family doctor may be an excellent source of medical care for your arthritis. Besides having your medication records, your family doctor already has your medical history, is familiar with your general physical health and knows of any past illnesses or injuries. All these facts will give your family doctor a head start in prescribing a treatment plan most suited to your needs.
If your arthritis affects many joints or other parts of the body or seems resistant to treatment, you may benefit from seeing a rheumatologist. This is a doctor with special training and experience in the field of arthritis. Your family doctor, the local chapter of the Arthritis Foundation or the county medical society can refer you to a rheumatologist. You can also search for a rheumatologist on the American College of Rheumatology web site.
Arthritis Symptoms & Treatment
Arthritis is inflammation that affects a joint. It causes cartilage the smooth coating that protects the ends of bones to break down.
Arthritis can cause joint pain, stiffness and swelling. It most often affects the fingers, wrists, hips and knees, but it can affect any joint where bones meet because cartilage is worn.
Nearly one in four adults have been diagnosed with arthritis , which can affect young people, too. We treat all types of arthritis, so that you can continue to work, play and enjoy life.
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Your Knee Has Become Deformed
If your arthritis is advanced, it can affect the way you walk, which can also lead to further problems elsewhere in your body.
As arthritis progresses, the knee may become bowed or knock-kneed, Heckmann says. If this type of deformity develops over time, a knee replacement may be indicated.
In addition, people with arthritis may also lose the ability to straighten their knee, according to Heckmann. If this occurs, you should seek an evaluation with an orthopaedic surgeon, as this loss of motion may be permanent, even after the knee has been replaced, he adds.
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Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
Rheumatoid arthritis also causes pain and swelling in the joints. Usually the small joints of the fingers and toes are affected first. The most common symptom is stiffness, and it takes a long time to get the joints moving, especially in the morning.
The disease is symmetrical, meaning that if your left index finger is swollen and painful, youll usually have the same symptoms in the right index finger.
Rheumatoid arthritis can be systemic, meaning it can develop to the point that it affects the whole body.
Other non-joint symptoms can include:
- shortness of breath
How Is Arthritis Treated
The main goal of treatment is to reduce the amount of pain youre experiencing and prevent additional damage to the joints. Youll learn what works best for you in terms of controlling pain. Some people find heating pads and ice packs to be soothing. Others use mobility assistance devices, like canes or walkers, to help take pressure off sore joints.
Improving your joint function is also important. Your doctor may prescribe you a combination of treatment methods to achieve the best results.
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help People With Arthritis
Weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight reduce the risk of developing OA and can reduce symptoms if you already have it.
Eating a healthy diet is important for weight loss. Choosing a diet with lots of antioxidants, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, can help reduce inflammation. Other inflammation-reducing foods include fish and nuts.
Foods to minimize or avoid if you have arthritis include fried foods, processed foods, dairy products, and high intakes of meat.
Some research also suggests that gluten antibodies may be present in people with RA. A gluten-free diet may improve symptoms and disease progression. A 2015 study also recommends a gluten-free diet for all people who receive a diagnosis of undifferentiated connective tissue disease.
Regular exercise will keep your joints flexible. Swimming is often a good form of exercise for people with arthritis because it doesnt put pressure on your joints the way running and walking do. Staying active is important, but you should also be sure to rest when you need to and avoid overexerting yourself.
At-home exercises you can try include:
- the head tilt, neck rotation, and other exercises to relieve pain in your neck
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Surgery For Spinal Arthritis
Surgery may be recommended for spinal arthritis if other treatments donât sufficiently relieve pain. The goals of the surgery may include:
Stabilizing the spine by fusing several segments together in a procedure called spinal fusion
These surgeries can be performed as open procedures or with a minimally invasive approach. There are pros and cons to each method. The surgeon will review and discuss the options before the operation.
Arthritis Types & Causes Of Arthritis
Doctors have identified dozens of types of arthritis. There are two main types that cause problems that may require orthopedic treatment:
- Osteoarthritis: The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis happens from wear and tear on joints. It might occur because of aging or after an injury or surgery.
- Rheumatoid arthritis : Also called rheumatoid pannus, RA is the most common type of autoimmune arthritis. RA happens when the bodys immune system begins to mistakenly attack healthy cells.
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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:
When To Seek Treatment For Signs Of Arthritis
If unexplained joint pain persists or worsens, it is time seek the experience of a trained medical professional. It is common to begin the treatment process by making an appointment with a primary care physician, who may refer the patient to an arthritis specialist, called a rheumatologist.
A physician may recommend using arthritis pain relief creams, such as JointFlex, oral medications, joint injections, or perhaps weight reduction based upon the early warning signs of arthritis. However, its important to remember that a prompt diagnosis can help preserve joint function and mobility for many years to come.
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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.
Do You Need To See An Orthopedic Physician Or A Rheumatologist
Patients should use the guidelines below to help determine if they should choose an orthopedic physician or rheumatologist for their arthritis and joint pain.
Patients might need an orthopedic physician if they have:
- Joint or musculoskeletal pain that began after an injury
- Gradually progressive hip or knee pain that is worse with weight bearing
- Joint pain that is severe and interfering with function
- Moderate or advanced arthritis of the knee or hip
- Previous unsuccessful treatment for joint pain
- Been told by their doctor they might need a joint replacement
Patients might need a rheumatologist if they have:
- Pain involving many joints
- New joint pain not associated with any injury
- Joint or musculoskeletal pain associated with morning stiffness, fever, fatigue, rash or chest pain
- Joint pain that followed a tick bite
- Joint pain associated with back pain
- Joint pain and psoriasis
- Muscular pain with or without any other symptoms
- New headaches or muscle aches and are over the age of 50
- Back pain with or without pain in the legs
- Unexplained, ongoing symptoms such as fever, sweats or weight loss
A patients’ medical needs are important and unique, that is why UMass Memorial Medical Center offers specialty trained physicians that have devoted their education and career to treating specific medical conditions to serve you.
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How Is Psoriatic Arthritis Treated
Today, there are many treatment options for psoriatic arthritis. A treatment plan often includes several of the following:
Therapy : These therapies can reduce pain. They can make it easier to move and do everyday tasks. If therapy can help, your doctor will write a prescription for the type of therapy you need. Your therapist will work with your doctor and report your progress.
Patient education: Learning about psoriatic arthritis is important. The more you know, the better you can control this disease. Take time to learn the signs and symptoms. Ask your doctor what you should do when the arthritis flares. Learn about arthritis-friendly exercises and exercises that you should not do, at least for a while.
Exercise and rest: Each plays an important role. Arthritis-friendly exercises can help reduce pain, make it easier to move, and sometimes restore lost movement. Rest is important when psoriatic arthritis flares.
Devices to protect joints: Braces, splints, and supports can protect affected joints and prevent further damage. They offer support for painful areas and can stop painful movements. You should not buy one without first talking with your doctor. The device must fit you properly. It must support the area that needs support. Your doctor may recommend that a physical or occupational therapist fit you.
When psoriatic arthritis is mild, patients usually can reduce signs and symptoms with:
Tip: Take medicine after a meal
You Have Bad Arthritis
Most people who undergo a knee replacement have either osteoarthritis, the wear-and-tear type of arthritis rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition that causes joint pain and damage or post-injury arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and posttraumatic arthritis affect the knee through different mechanisms, however, these different conditions are similar in that they all result in loss of cartilage, which causes pain and loss of motion, says Nathanael Heckmann, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon at Keck Medicine of USC and an assistant professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. When these symptoms become severe, knee replacement surgery may provide considerable symptom relief by replacing the worn-out surfaces of the knee.
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Why See A Hand Specialist
The reason you should see a hand specialist if you are experiencing arthritis pain in the hands is simple: hand specialists are experts in treating conditions like arthritis pain in the hands. No other physician can give you the expert care that this type of physician offers.
Would you see a heart specialist for your diabetes condition or an endocrinologist if you broke a bone? Of course not! There are a variety of medical doctors specializing in every subfield of medicine possible. Because no single doctor can specialize in every subfield of medicine, patients see specialized doctors for specific needs. Arthritis is an orthopedic condition that affects the musculoskeletal system. Orthopedic physicians are experts in treating all types of musculoskeletal issues. Therefore, you should see an orthopedic physician if you have arthritis.
Further, arthritis can affect any joint in the body. Orthopedic physicians often have specializations in different parts of the body. Hand specialists are orthopedic physicians who have specialized education and experience treating orthopedic issues in the hands and wrists. This makes them experts in this particular subfield of orthopedic care.
Its Time To Get Back To An Active Lifestyle
The bottom line is that joint pain can wreak havoc on your quality of life. You owe it to yourself to address the onset of arthritis as soon as possible. A qualified physician will be able to offer the best treatment to help you manage your condition and prevent further wear and tear. If youre wondering, Do I need to see a doctor about arthritis, simply pick up the phone and call for an appointment. Stop asking and start taking action!
If youre looking for the best physicians to address your arthritis, youll find them at Rothman Orthopaedic Institute. Read more about why our team is renowned nationally and preferred regionally. Or for more information, please visit us here or contact us at 1-800-321-9999. Wed love to answer any questions you have and set you up with an appointment to get started on the road toward pain relief.
If youre still wondering, How do I know if I have arthritis? or if you have additional questions about the information you read here, check out the rest of the articles in our helpful series on joint pain:
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Early Signs Of Arthritis
While some signs of arthritis develop and worsen with time, other symptoms are often present at the onset of the disease. Common early signs of arthritis are morning stiffness,4 fatigue,5tingling,6 and numbness of the joints.
Individuals with early onsite arthritis may feel unusually fatigued doing normal daily activities, and this fatigue may come or go on certain days. Tingling and numbness may be mild sensations in the beginning. Stiffness in the morning that only lasts a few minutes is often an early warning sign of a degenerative form of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis. Meanwhile, individuals who experience morning stiffness that lasts a few hours may be feeling an early warning sign of rheumatoid arthritis or another form of inflammatory arthritis.6
Rheumatoid Arthritis Of The Spine
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, meaning that the immune system turns on itself. It attacks the synovium â 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 itâs 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.
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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.
What Are Some Of The Other Methods To Diagnose Osteoarthritis
Besides the appearance of arthritis on X-ray, there are some other tests as well that are performed by the doctors to know better about the patients condition. Before the X-Ray test, the doctor will ask some questions to study your symptoms. The doctors will ask these things to the patient.
- The degree of pain
- How long have you been suffering from this pain?
- What kinds of activities are difficult to perform because of the pain or decreased mobility?
After reviewing the symptoms, the doctor will perform some physical examinations to know about these things:
- See if there is a swelling in the joint, as it could be a sign of excess fluid.
- Check if the muscle is thinning or not
- Check out joint mobility to see if it is normal or not
- Joint tenderness
- Joint instability
Some other forms of tests that doctors may include are as follows:
- Blood tests: The blood tests are usually not necessary to diagnose osteoarthritis however, the doctor may ask the patient to test their blood for ruling out other possible diagnoses.
- Joint fluid analysis: The doctor will use the needle for withdrawing the fluid if there is an excess swelling around the joints. The fluid will be used by the doctor to see if the patient has an infection, gout, or some osteoarthritis-related inflammation.
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