Arthritis is a chronic pain condition that can cause pain and inflammations in any one of your body’s 200+ joints.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA), affecting most people over 50, but anyone at any age can develop arthritis. No matter the type of arthritis you have, when it hits, and where it hurts, The Pain Experts of Arizona can help you get back to pain-free living. Get in touch today! To see how osteoarthritis of the knee works, take a look at this video or keep reading to learn more about the options for arthritis treatment Arizona patients are offered at The Pain Experts of Arizona.
Getting an arthritis diagnosis is your first step to successful treatment.
There are a variety of treatment options, many of which can be administered at the same time for best results. These are the most common. Arizona arthritis treatment patients should discuss a treatment plan with their doctor.
1. Lifestyle changes
The first approach to treating arthritis should be lifestyle changes. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet, maintaining healthy body weight, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly can go a long way towards treating arthritis symptoms. Additionally, stop smoking and limit your consumption of alcohol. Relaxation exercises such as meditation, tai chi, and yoga can help to heal the mind and body. They have been proven to ease chronic pain and improve your quality of life, and are a complementary approach that works with many other treatment methods.
2. Comfort measures
Dry heat or moist heat can help improve your range of motion, while cold therapy can decrease painful information. In some cases, a day of rest can also ease acute arthritis symptoms, as can massage therapy and a long soak in a bath full of Epsom salts.
3. Complementary therapies
Complementary therapies work in conjunction with other treatments to ease symptoms and help your body heal. Acupuncture (more info here) is an ancient medical treatment with increasing modern research that showcases its pain-relieving powers, including for arthritis pain. Vitamin supplements and herbs can also help promote overall wellness while delivering powerful benefits in terms of reducing inflammation. Finally, topical analgesics that include capsaicin can provide relief from pain, too.
4. Over-the-counter options
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium, can go a long way towards relieving pain and inflammation when arthritis flares. Always follow your doctor’s guidance before taking these medications.
5. Prescription medication
When over-the-counter options aren’t helping, prescription medications step in. Your doctor may prescribe stronger prescription NSAIDs, or they may look towards prescription steroids, antidepressants, and, in rare cases, opioids for pain relief. Again, always follow your doctor’s recommendations.
6. Physical and occupational therapy
Physical and occupational therapy help to re-train and strengthen your body in the actions that arthritis has compromised. Both can help restore your range of motion so you can find more ease and less pain in your day.
Surgery is generally only recommended when conservative measures have failed, or there is a clear surgical need. This may be something as simple as draining fluid build-up on the knee due to gout, or it might consist of a total or partial hip replacement.
Arthritis symptoms are very similar, even across the different types of arthritis.
They typically include:
- Limited range of motion
Some people also experience arthritis symptoms such as fever, fatigue, heat in the affected joint, and rash.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, but the most common forms include the following.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is caused when cartilage in and around your joints begins to wear out over time. Cartilage is an elastic tissue that pads the ends of your bones and joints and protects them from impact and friction. As the cartilage gets worn down, these bones can start rubbing together. This eventually causes permanent damage to the joint. While osteoarthritis can affect any joint, it usually occurs in the hands, hips, knees, spine, and neck areas.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body effectively “attacks” its own tissues. This attack includes the tissues in and around the joints. The hallmark of advanced rheumatoid arthritis is not only pain but also red, swollen, and deformed joints, particularly in the fingers and hands. Left untreated, rheumatoid arthritis can eventually erode bone and cause permanent deformity.
Juvenile arthritis is a blanket term for joint pain and inflammation found in children. This condition is commonly idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause. Some children suffer from autoimmune disorders than can lead to juvenile arthritis, while others may have other contributing factors (e.g., injury or hereditary conditions).
Another form of arthritis is gout, a condition that begins with excessive uric acid in the body. This uric acid is deposited in the joints, most often the big toe and the knee, limiting motion and causing extreme pain and swelling. Many painful gout attacks occur at night and come on suddenly.
Many people don’t realize that lupus is another inflammatory condition that is classified as arthritis. Whether or not you have the characteristic butterfly rash across the nose and cheeks, lupus can cause painful swelling in the joints, fatigue, and fever. Lupus often comes in flare-ups of pain and symptoms, receding overtime before returning. Many patients with lupus find their symptoms get worse as they grow older.
Diagnosing arthritis is key to a successful treatment plan. Your doctor will start by gathering a complete medical history to determine if there is a family history of arthritis. Next, they’ll conduct a physical exam. This will include a range of motion testing and palpation of the painful area. In some cases, a family history combined with a physical exam is enough to arrive at a diagnosis. If more information is needed, or your doctor wants to rule out other conditions, they might conduct the following diagnostic tests:
- Imaging tests (X-rays, ultrasounds, MRIs)
- Blood tests
- Joint aspiration (a process of obtaining a sample of fluid from the affected joint for testing)
All of these tests give a better picture of your symptoms so your doctor can develop a more concrete diagnosis.
There are many different arthritis causes to consider.
In many cases, arthritis results from the joint getting worn over time. Other arthritis causes include:
- Repetitive motion in physically demanding jobs
- Immune system dysfunction
- Injury (especially left untreated)
- Infection, either systemic or in the joint itself
- Inherited condition
We can take charge of some of these arthritis causes by making sure to maintain healthy body weight, taking good care of our mental health, and getting enough sleep.