All About Arthritis

As the leading orthopedic specialists in Johnstown, we see many patients who have arthritis. Often times, depending on the type of arthritis, we can offer joint injections to ease pain and treat the symptoms of this condition. If you are experiencing joint pain or stiffness, it’s possible that you have arthritis. While this is a painful condition, now more than ever there are a variety of treatments that can help manage the symptoms and give you hope.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the joints. While it is commonly associated with older age, it can impact anyone from young children to seniors. In general, it is characterized by stiffness and pain in the joints that makes movement difficult. While arthritis can cause pain that makes it difficult to participate in daily activities, there are new treatments that make it easier than ever to cope. Medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes can improve arthritis symptoms in most cases.

How Common is Arthritis?

Arthritis is an incredibly common condition, impacting one in five Americans, or roughly 46 million adults. This number continues to rise and is projected to continue to do so dramatically. While rates of arthritis are rising, it is far from a new condition. For hundreds of years, humans have experienced arthritis. In fact, there is evidence of arthritic joints in skeletons that are centuries old. Fortunately, today we have much greater knowledge of the musculoskeletal system and orthopedic specialists to help people cope with arthritic symptoms in a variety of ways.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Symptoms of arthritis can vary in what body parts are affected, but in general, it is characterized by pain, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion of the joints. Arthritis symptoms will also be different depending on the type of arthritis.

Types of Arthritis

There are three main types of arthritis:

  • Osteoarthritis. Also known as degenerative joint disease, this is the most common type of arthritis. This happens when the cartilage inside a joint disintegrates, such as the spine, fingers, hips, wrists, knees, or toes. Osteoarthritis is most common in people over the age of 40.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, happens when the lining of the joints becomes irritated and inflamed, damaging the joints. This most commonly occurs in the wrists, hands, and gingers. RA is an autoimmune disease and it usually onsets between age 30 and 50. It is most common among women.
  • Juvenile arthritis. Juvenile arthritis, or JA, refers to any type of arthritis when it occurs in someone under the age of 18. It’s not known what causes arthritis to occur in younger people. But it is more common in girls than boys. It can impact the ankles, knees, or wrists, or less often, it can impact the jaw, shoulders, neck, and hips. There are several different types of juvenile arthritis, but the most common is juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). There are three forms of JRA: polyarticular (many joints affected), pauciarticular (four or fewer joints affected), and systemic onset (the whole body affected).

Arthritis Treatment

There are a variety of treatment methods when it comes to arthritis these days. Whereas in the past, doctors would bandage joints to prevent them from being used, today, we know that arthritic joints are “use it or lose it.” Some light rest is better than not using them at all.

Osteoarthritis is treated with exercise, physical therapy, injections, and medications. Your doctor may also recommend weight loss, as osteoarthritis may be linked to strain on the joints from excess body weight. Losing weight lessens the strain on the joints and may help ease some symptoms, particularly if the condition is in the knee or hip joints.

Because rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, it is treated differently than osteoarthritis. RA is most successfully treated by biologic drugs such as Humira, and these days, it is more common for people to go into remission with these treatments.

As orthopedic specialists in Johnstown, we are well-versed in treating arthritis with joint injections. We would be happy to help you manage your arthritis, regardless of type. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, it’s wise to come visit our orthopedic surgery center for a consultation.