Arthritis is a term that describes a collection of conditions affecting the joints. There are more than 100 types of arthritis with a wide range of symptoms and causes. Whatever type of arthritis you have, it means pain and discomfort, together with swollen joints.
Preventing and treating arthritis has become one of the largest health concerns seen by medical providers today, with treatments ranging from heating pads to medication to joint replacement. Millions of people are affected by arthritis, with the majority suffering from a few of the most common types.
Osteoarthritis – OA – is what most people are talking about when they use the term arthritis. OA is the most common type of joint disease, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis. OA is common in adults as they age and is becoming more common as people live longer, more active lives. OA occurs when the cartilage protecting the ends of the bones that make up a joint wears down from use. When the cartilage is thin or missing, the bones in the joint rub together, which can be painful and can cause bone spurs to develop.
There is no way to reverse osteoarthritis, but many find relief from conservative treatments like heat and cold application exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles, and medications including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Rheumatoid arthritis – RA – is another common form of arthritis, affecting about 1.5 million people in the U.S. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, and women are more likely to suffer from RA than men. The immune system of people with RA attacks the synovium, or lining of the inside of the joints. This causes inflammation and a thickening of the synovium that eventually destroys the cartilage within the joint.
No one knows what causes RA, but it is a chronic condition that requires a lifetime of careful medical management. Failure to treat RA can lead to permanent joint deformity.
Gout is a form of arthritis that usually causes intense, sudden pain in the big toe. Patients often report waking up in the middle of the night by a stabbing pain in the toe. Gout-affected joints are red, swollen, and hot to the touch. This type of arthritis can be diagnosed by the presence of uric acid in the blood.
Episodes of gout sometimes are preceded by eating steak, seafood, and drinking beer or other alcoholic beverages. Men are more likely to acquire gout than women. An incidence of gout may never be repeated or it may recur multiple times. It is more likely to repeat in people who have experienced it before and do not seek treatment or focus on their lifestyle habits.
Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune form of the disease that occurs in some people who have psoriasis. The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis are similar to RA, and are often misdiagnosed. However there are some differences. Psoriatic arthritis is more likely to cause swelling and pain in the fingertips and toes, the back of the foot and along the arch (plantar fasciitis). Aside from a physical examination, laboratory tests can rule out RA and gout as a diagnosis.
Expert diagnosis and treatment of arthritis can reduce the pain and severity of the disease when you get the treatment you need right away. Patients in Sarasota and Manatee counties trust the caring doctors at Intercoastal Medical Group for their arthritis treatment. Find a provider at the location closest to you today and experience the care you need to get on the road to wellness. You can also request an appointment online now.