Every time you move, you utilize a joint in your body. Joint diseases like arthritis make moving painful, making everyday activities difficult. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. More than 50 million adults have been diagnosed with arthritis. That’s 1 in 5 adults in the U.S.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis. The most commonly diagnosed types, however, are:
- Osteoarthritis (OA)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
- Psoriatic Arthritis (PA)
Signs and symptoms of arthritis may vary depending on which type you have. However, the most common symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, redness and decreased range of motion.
Arthritis Diagnostics and Testing
Doctors can perform a variety of tests and procedures to diagnose arthritis and decide the best course of treatment. They may perform laboratory tests that require a sample of joint fluid. They may also use imaging and radiology tests such as X-rays, computerized tomography (CT) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and ultrasound.
Another method of testing is arthroscopy, which is when a small, flexible tube is inserted into the joint. The tube then transmits images to a video screen so the doctor can visually see the joint.
There are many methods of treatment for arthritis that are used to manage the pain, relieve symptoms and improve joint function. Your doctor will work with you to decide the best course of treatment for your particular type of arthritis. He or she will most likely choose one of the following:
These are pain-relieving medications such as acetaminophen, hydrocodone and oxycodone, but they don’t help relieve inflammation.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
These medications relieve both pain and inflammation. This includes both over-the-counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Aleve). Some NSAIDs are only available by prescription.
These include both creams and ointments that can temporarily relieve aching joints.
- Disease- modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
When a patient has rheumatoid arthritis, they may be prescribed DMARDs, which slow or stop the immune system from attacking the joints.
Often used with DMARDs, these drugs are used to target protein molecules that are involved in the immune response.
Taken orally or injected into the joint, this type of treatment is used to both reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system.
- Physical therapy
Depending on the type of arthritis, physical therapy may be beneficial.
If the above conservative treatments don’t work, your doctor may recommend a more invasive treatment such as orthopedic surgery. This may include joint replacement surgery, which removes the damaged joint and replaces it with an artificial one. This can be conducted on a variety of joints throughout the body. Another type of surgery is joint fusion, which fuses the end of two smaller joints, like those found in the wrist, ankle or fingers, to form one rigid unit.
Hunt Regional Healthcare is ready to care for any patient who may have arthritis or other orthopedic conditions. We understand the difficulty that arthritis can bring to everyday life, work and leisurely activities, but we’re here to help correct the problem as best as possible.
Learn more about our Orthopedic Services by reading our Orthopedic FAQs today.