When Should I See My Doctor
Joints get sore and swollen for many reasons. It could be due to an injury, overuse, or doing a new type of physical activity.
See your doctor if you have pain and stiffness that starts with no clear reason, lasts for more than a few days, and also causes swelling, redness and warmth. It is important to start treatment as soon as possible to prevent the condition from getting worse and causing long-term damage.
Learn The Signs Causes And Treatment Of Osteoarthritis In Teenagers
Though most people associate arthritis with old age, the disorder can also affect young people in their 30s, 20s and even teens.
Troy Smurawa, M.D., Director of Pediatric Sports Medicine at the Children’s Health Andrews Institute for Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, explains how and why arthritis can develop in the younger years.
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.
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What Increases Your Risk For Arthritis
Sometimes arthritis can occur with no known cause. But there are also factors that can increase your risk for all types of arthritis.
Age: Advanced age increases a persons risk for arthritis types such as gout, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis.
Family history: You are more likely to have arthritis if your parent or sibling has an arthritis type.
Gender: Women are more likely to have RA than men while men are more likely to have gout.
Obesity: Excess weight can increase a persons risk for OA because it puts more pressure on the joints.
History of previous injuries: Those who have injured a joint from playing sports, from a car accident, or other occurrences are more likely to experience arthritis later.
Even if you dont feel the symptoms, you should discuss your potential risks for arthritis with your doctor. They can help provide ways to prevent or delay arthritis.
Just as the location of arthritis varies, not all people will have the same type of arthritis.
How Does Arthritis Feel
Arthritis usually causes stiffness pain and fatigue. The severity varies from person to person and even from day to day. In some people only a few joints are affected and the impact may be small. In other people the entire body system may be affected.
The joints of the body are the site of much of the action in arthritis. Many types of arthritis show signs of joint inflammation: swelling, stiffness, tenderness, redness or warmth. These joint symptoms may be accompanied by weight loss, fever or weakness.
When these symptoms last for more than two weeks, inflammatory arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis may be the cause. Joint inflammation may also be caused by infection which can lead to septic arthritis. Degenerative joint disease is the most common type of arthritis joint inflammation is not a prominent feature of this condition. While normal joints can support a vast amount of use, mechanical abnormalities of a joint make it susceptible to degeneration.
It is healthy for you to keep active and move your joints. If you do not move a joint regularly, the muscles around it weaken and/or become tight. The joint can stiffen or even freeze. When you do try to move the joint and muscles hurt because they have been still for so long.
Arthritis can make it hard to do the movements you rely on every day for work or taking care of your family.
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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 Causes Rheumatoid Arthritis
The specific causes of rheumatoid arthritis have yet to be identified. This is true despite decades of medical research.
However, while we dont know specifically what brings about RA and the symptoms it is known to create such as joint pain, stiffness, fatigue, and low-grade fever we do know that it is the result of an autoimmune disorder which ultimately affects the joints.
In fact, oftentimes the pain in the joints is so severe that the people suffering from RA are advised to take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen or some other type of anti-rheumatic drug to help ease the pain in the joints created by RA.
Whats the connection between RA and the joints? Specifically, how does this disease impact the joints in the human body, creating pain as a primary symptom?
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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.
What Does Osteoarthritis Feel Like
Osteoarthritis can cause all, or some, of the following symptoms in one, or multiple, joints:
- Pain when moving the affected joint
- Tenderness when applying pressure to the area
- Reduced movement and flexibility
- Stiffness in the joint after long periods of rest, such as waking after a nights sleep
- External swelling, which indicates inflammation inside the joint
- A grating sensation on the inside of the joint when moving it
- A popping or clicking sound when moving
- Hard lumps forming on the joint, which indicates the development of bone spurs
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How Is Hip Arthritis Diagnosed
Your doctor may use the following diagnostic tools to determine if you have hip arthritis:
- Medical history and physical examination
- Blood tests for genetic markers and/or RA antibodies
- X-rays to determine cartilage loss
You cant see cartilage on X-ray, but you can see the space between the bones of the hip joint. If its narrowing, this could mean that cartilage has been lost. X-rays also show bone spurs and cysts, which develop due to osteoarthritis. MRI of the hip is usually not needed to diagnose arthritis.
Degenerative Or Mechanical Arthritis
Degenerative or mechanical arthritis refers to a group of conditions that mainly involve damage to the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones.
The main job of the smooth, slippery cartilage is to help the joints glide and move smoothly. This type of arthritis causes the cartilage to become thinner and rougher.
To compensate for the loss of cartilage and changes in joint function, the body begins to remodel the bone in an attempt to restore stability. This can cause undesirable bony growths to develop, called osteophytes. The joint can become misshapen. This condition is commonly called osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis can also result from previous damage to the joint such as a fracture or previous inflammation in the joint.
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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.
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.
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Causes Of Sudden Arthritis Symptoms
“Sudden arthritis” is not a real medical condition, but the symptoms of arthritis â namely, joint pain and swelling â can develop very abruptly in some people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
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Arthritis can also come and go, so you could feel tip-top one day and wake up feeling sore and achy the next.
Here’s more on why arthritis might seem to come on all of a sudden, including when you should call a doctor about your symptoms.
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:
Presence of certain conditions such as diabetes, gout, psoriasis, tuberculosis, irritable bowel syndrome and Lyme disease
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Stop Eating An Unhealthy Diet
What’s your diet got to do with arthritis? Eating well and maintaining your ideal weight is especially important if you’ve got arthritis. Excess pounds can put lots of stress on weight-bearing joints, which is likely to make arthritis pain worse. Even moderate weight gain can stress joints that are already burdened by arthritis.
Spinal Arthritis May Contribute To Other Issues In The Spine
Spinal arthritis may cause bone spurs overgrowths on the edges of the bones. In the spine, bone spurs particularly affect facet joints, making them grow larger. This condition is called facet joint hypertrophy. Although bone spurs on their own are not harmful, they may narrow the passages for the spinal cord and the nerves exiting the spine. This may lead to two painful conditions:
Spinal stenosis compression of the spinal cord inside the spinal canal
Radiculopathy pinching of the peripheral nerves as they exit the spine
Ankylosing spondylitis may also cause additional problems such as:
Stress fractures in places where new bone has formed
A spinal deformity called kyphosis
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Possible Causes Of Arthritis
Immune-system changesâIn 2011, VA and Stanford University researchers provided new insights into immune-system changes that may trigger the breakdown of cartilage associated with osteoarthritis. They found that the complement system, a group of proteins that move freely through the bloodstream, plays an important role in osteoarthritis’ development and its spread.
One component of the complement system, called the membrane attack complex, or MAC, is formed and activated in the joints of both humans and mice affected by osteoarthritis.
The research team believes that when the MAC is activated incorrectly in the joints, it induces both low-grade inflammation and the productions of enzymes that break down cartilage and result in the development of osteoarthritis. This finding could eventually transmit into better therapies to treat the diseaseâor to prevent it altogether.
PTSD and autoimmune disordersâA 2015 study of more than 666,000 Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan found that those with PTSD were more likely to have autoimmune disorders such as RA. The study, led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, found a twofold increased risk of such disorders among those with PTSD compared with those who had no psychiatric disorders, and an even greater risk compared with those who had other psychiatric disorders than PTSD.
New Treatments For Arthritis In Young People
The best treatment for osteoarthritis in young people is to prevent it altogether. You may be able to reduce your child’s risk for sports injuries by having them participate in ACL injury prevention programs that focus on strength and body mechanics.
“The most important thing is to make sure that when athletes participate in sport, they are doing everything they can to prevent acute injury or even overuse injuries,” says Dr. Smurawa. “They need to condition and strengthen their body and know the skills of their sport.”
Treating cartilage injuries in children is different than in adults because children are still growing, says Dr. Smurawa. Some children’s cartilage will continue to heal on its own without treatment, while other children will need surgical care or other treatment.
One new procedure, matrix autologous cultured chondrocyte implantation , takes the patient’s own cartilage cells, expands them and places them in a collagen membrane. These cells are then implanted in the knee to help restore damaged cartilage.
While MACI technology has been used in Europe for many years, it has only recently been approved in the United States for adults with knee cartilage damage. Soon, this new treatment may be available for children and teens, giving them new options for preventing arthritis in their younger years.
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Causes Of Death In Patients With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Researchers at the VA Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System found, in 2015, that men with RA have double the risk of death from all causes, and triple the rate of death from respiratory-related causes compared to the general population without RA.
Cardiovascular-disease related mortality was the leading cause of death among the 332 deaths of 1,652 Veterans with RA who attended rheumatology clinics at twelve VA medical centers. The average age of those studied was 64.6 years. RA itself was the cause of 5.4 percent of the deaths. Further studies are needed to find out whether targeting these illnesses might lead to improved long-term survival in men with RA.
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.
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