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.
Take Notes About Pain Frequency Intensity And Triggers
Try keeping a diary of how you feel each day, rating your pain at different times and after different activities. Record what makes your pain feel better, and what makes it worse. Also share with your doctor what you can and cannot do because of your pain. For instance, make note of whether you can drive a car comfortably but have difficulty holding a fork. Your doctor will also want to know about any other symptoms you are experiencing, such as fever or a skin rash, which could point to another kind of arthritis.
The long-term impact to your health from arthritis varies widely from person to person and by the type and severity of arthritis. Still, a diagnosis and treatment is important for more than just your physical health its necessary for your emotional health, too. Anxiety and depression can occur with almost any chronic illness arthritis is no exception, Ruthberg says. So, if youre struggling with pain, see your doctor to figure out the source and the solution.
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
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.
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At 78, Jan Greer wanted to stay active and athletic. Herniated disks, stenosis and other degenerative back problems were causing him unbearable pain. When the pain became too much to bear, he turned to Johns Hopkins.
Will I Need Surgery For Arthritis
Healthcare providers usually only recommend surgery for certain severe cases of arthritis. These are cases that havent improved with conservative treatments. Surgical options include:
- Fusion: Two or more bones are permanently fused together. Fusion immobilizes a joint and reduces pain caused by movement.
- Joint replacement: A damaged, arthritic joint gets replaced with an artificial joint. Joint replacement preserves joint function and movement. Examples include ankle replacement, hip replacement, knee replacement and shoulder replacement.
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What Can I Do To Make Living With Arthritis Easier
Changing your routine can make living with arthritis easier. Adjust your activities to lessen joint pain. It may help to work with an occupational therapist . An OT is a healthcare provider who specializes in managing physical challenges like arthritis.
An OT may recommend:
- Adaptive equipment, such as grips for opening jars.
- Techniques for doing hobbies, sports or other activities safely.
- Tips for reducing joint pain during arthritic flare-ups.
Common Medications To Treat Arthritis Flares
OA patients might just need some OTC pain-relieving medication such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Dr. Bose also recommends topical gels and lotions like diclofenac gel or 2 Old Goats. If that doesnt work, Dr. Ashany says joint injections of steroids may be given. RA flares are more complicated. In inflammatory arthritis, steroids are often used to try to quickly bring a flare under control, Dr. Ashany says. If only one joint is involved a steroid can be given by injection, but otherwise it can be taken orally .
In inflammatory arthritis, if flares continue to occur, this indicates that the patients regimen of maintenance medication is not adequate, Dr. Ashany says. This may lead to addition of a medication, switching one drug for another or increasing the dose of medication that the patient is currently taking.
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Home Remedies And Medical Options
- physical activity, including tai chi, walking, cycling, and water exercise
- nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen or aspirin, to reduce pain and inflammation
- tramadol, available on prescription for more severe pain
- corticosteroid injections to reduce inflammation
- other medications, such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs for RA but not OA
- applying heat and cold pads to relieve pain and swelling
- topical creams, such as capsaicin
- using a cane or walker to help you balance
- attending cognitive behavioral therapy
Experts say that people who play an active role in managing OA, for example, are likely to see a more positive outcome. Learning about arthritis, becoming aware of what makes symptoms better or worse, and making decisions with your doctor are ways of doing this.
Discover exercises to strengthen the knee muscles.
How Are Foot Or Ankle Problems Diagnosed
A healthcare professional will usually make their diagnosis after examining your feet. They will look for signs of swelling and any structural changes that could be causing the pain. You may also be asked to walk about, to see whether the problem affects your movement and posture.
Most of the time they can make a diagnosis without scans, x-rays or blood tests, unless they think your pain is being caused by a condition, such as arthritis.
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What Happens When Someone Has Jia
People with JIA may have pain and stiffness that can change from day to day or from morning to afternoon. These symptoms can come and go. When the condition becomes more active and the symptoms worsen, it’s known as a “flare” or a “flare-up.”
JIA often causes only minor problems, but in some cases it can cause serious joint damage or limit growth. Although JIA mostly affects the joints and surrounding tissues, it can also affect other organs, like the eyes, liver, heart, and lungs.
JIA is a condition, meaning it can last for months and years. Sometimes the symptoms just go away with treatment, which is known as remission. Remission may last for months, years, or a person’s lifetime. In fact, many teens with JIA eventually enter full remission with little or no permanent joint damage.
Other Possible Causes Of Hand Pain
Hand pain is also a sign of Dupuytrens contracture, a condition in which the tissue of the palm and fingers becomes thickened and tight, causing the fingers to curl inward. Its not clear why Dupuytrens contracture develops, though those who smoke, drink a lot of alcohol, and have seizures or diabetes are more vulnerable to developing it.
Your doctor will also consider whether your hand pain could be due to carpal tunnel syndrome, says Dr. Byram. RA can be a cause of carpal tunnel syndrome, so if we see someone who has carpal tunnel, well want to make sure they dont have RA. Carpal tunnel is a condition that occurs when one of the major nerves to the hand the median nerve is squeezed or compressed as it travels through the wrist, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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Talk To Your Healthcare Provider
RA is a chronic disease that doesnt currently have a cure. That said, most people with RA dont have constant symptoms. Instead, they have flare-ups followed by relatively symptom-free periods called remissions.
The course of the disease varies from person to person, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Though symptoms may stop for extended periods, joint problems caused by RA will usually get worse over time. Thats why early treatment is so important to help delay serious joint damage.
If youre experiencing any symptoms or have concerns about RA, talk to your healthcare provider.
Cbd Oil To Treat Arthritis In Dogs
A treatment option that has gained popularity in recent years is using CBD oil to treat arthritis in dogs. In short, CBD is a compound found in cannabis and hemp that some dog owners, as well as humans, find effective in treating a variety of conditions. Some anecdotal reports suggest that CBD oil can help dogs with arthritis pain. However, Dr. Klein reminds us that currently there is no scientific data on the use or benefits of CBD.
Additionally, limited regulation of CBD oil makes it difficult for veterinarians to sign off on its use since there is no way of predicting purity, concentration, efficacy, potential benefits, or side effects. While the unknowns surrounding CBD will change with more research , at this time, there is no scientific evidence to support the use of CBD oil for canine arthritis or any other ailments. If youre considering CBD oil as a treatment, make sure to speak to your veterinarian first.
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Prepare Ahead Of Time
Keep track of when your flares happen so you can learn to identify triggers. If you think, for example, that weather affects your flares, OA patients need to prepare accordingly and use OTC pain meds, Dr. Bose says. In addition, RA patients should stay compliant with their medication regimen. If you suspect your diet could be a culprit, monitor what foods youre eating, says Karen Jacobs, EdD, OT, OTR, CPE, FAOTA, an occupational therapist who works with arthritis patients and a clinical professor at Boston University.
Have a plan for when flares inevitably occur. Jacobs says to arrange ahead of time with your employer to work from home or make other adjustments if needed. An inflammatory arthritis patient will often, in time, have a sense of whether they are starting to flare, Dr. Ashany says.
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.
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:
Deformities Of The Knee
The appearance of the knee can change during a flare and as damage progresses.
In RA, swelling and redness are common during a flare. In the long term, persistent inflammation can result in permanent damage to the cartilage and the tendons. This can affect the shape and appearance of the knee.
With OA, the muscles around the knee can weaken, resulting in a sunken appearance. The knees can start to point toward each other or bend outward.
Knee deformities range from barely noticeable to severe and debilitating.
Treatment will depend on the type of arthritis a person has.
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Spinal Arthritis May Contribute To Other Issues In The Spine
Spinal arthritis may cause bone spurs â 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 stenosisâ compression of the spinal cord inside the spinal canal
Radiculopathyâ 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
Can You Prevent Arthritis
There is no single preventative measure for arthritis, especially considering all of the different forms that exist. But you can take steps to preserve joint function and mobility. These steps will also improve your overall quality of life.
Learning more about the disease can also help with early treatment. For example, if you know you have an autoimmune disorder, you can be mindful of early symptoms. The earlier you catch the disease and start treatment the better you may be able to delay the progression of the disease.
Some general recommendations as to how you can prevent arthritis include:
- Eating a Mediterranean-style diet. A diet of fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, beans, and whole grains may help with inflammation. Decreasing your intake of sugar, wheat, and gluten may also help.
- Eating a diet low in sugars. Sugars can contribute to inflammation and gout pain.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. This reduces the demands on your joints.
- Exercising regularly. Physical activity can help reduce pain, improve mood, and increase joint mobility and function.
- Refraining from smoking. The habit can worsen autoimmune disorders, and is a major risk-factor for rheumatoid arthritis
- Seeing your doctor for yearly check-ups. Remember to report any symptoms that may be related to arthritis.
- Wearing proper protective equipment. When playing sports or doing work, protective equipment can help prevent injuries.
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Arthritis Pain Or Muscle Pain: How To Tell The Difference
As a Good Samaritan, you helped your neighbour who was moving his couch up to the third floor. The result: your back is throbbing with pain.
Most active people sometimes come up against a few obstacles that can temporarily affect their ability to move and require taking pain medication. A wrong move, a fall or an injury are a few events that can be a source of muscle pain or inflammation. When these events occur, it seems a lot of us line up to read the dizzying selection of product packages on display in the analgesics and anti-inflammatory section at the pharmacy. Faced with such a wide choice of products, it is normal to get confused, especially when we are not exactly certain just what kind of pain is bothering us.
The Difference Between Rheumatoid Arthritis And Osteoarthritis
Like RA, people with osteoarthritis can experience painful and stiff joints that make moving around difficult.
People with OA may have joint swelling after extended activity, but OA doesnt cause any significant inflammatory reaction that typically results in redness of the affected joints.
Unlike RA, OA isnt an autoimmune disease. Its related to the natural wear and tear of the joints as you age, or it can develop as a result of trauma.
OA is most often seen in older adults. However, it can sometimes be seen in younger adults who overuse a particular joint such as tennis players and other athletes or those whove experienced a severe injury.
RA is an autoimmune disease. The joint damage from RA isnt caused by normal wear and tear. Its caused by your body attacking itself.
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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