Arthritis has become all too familiar for many men and women in the United States. Some 52.5 million people deal with the aches and pains of this debilitating condition each and every day. For many, arthritis has become an inevitable part of the aging process, one that can’t be stopped or even slowed down. Fortunately for those who do experience arthritis symptoms each day, there are treatments available that can relieve discomfort and increase your mobility.
Before treating your joint pain, it’s essential to be sure that it is actually caused by arthritis. Simply put, arthritis is an inflammation of the joint that can occur in one area or multiple joints throughout the body. Arthritis typically results when the cartilage that pads the bones in your joints has become injured. This connective tissue absorbs the stress between joint bones and cushions movements, so injuries can lead to inflammation, swelling, redness, heat and pain. These symptoms often make the smallest movements painful, which can lead to impaired mobility in the affected joint or joints.
There are several types of arthritis:
- Osteoarthritis, or degenerative arthritis, is most common among people past middle age. This type of arthritis occurs because the cartilage between joints has worn down or frayed, leaving the bones rubbing together.
- Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the patient’s immune system attacks and destroys cartilage between joints. It is believed to be a genetic condition and can be triggered in a patient’s body at a much younger age.
- Post-traumatic arthritis is the result of an injury that damages the cartilage in a joint, sometimes not developing until years after the injury occurs.
About Arthritis Management at Home
Many of the millions who suffer from arthritis pain can only make it through the day by implementing some of their own home care strategies. While there are clinical treatments that can alleviate pain for a time, many of the lifestyle strategies for arthritis patients are best for long-term relief. If you’ve been diagnosed with any form of arthritis, start by educating yourself about your condition and learning from other patients who have the condition. Adopt a lifestyle that is consistent with your arthritis; stay active and keep an eye on your weight. By staying fit and using your joints, you won’t see a dramatic loss in your mobility and you may even lessen your pain over time. With that in mind protect your joints by keeping them warm and by frequent, gentle stretching. Finally, follow your physician’s care instructions for a treatment that works for you.
About Medical Treatments for Arthritis
The personal care strategies mentioned above can create a solid foundation for management of your arthritis pain. Once you’re in the care of an orthopaedic specialist, you’ll have the chance to fine-tune your treatment method for the specific type of arthritis that you have. Believe it or not, there are over two dozen different types of arthritis. Depending on the root cause of your arthritic pain, you may be recommended to try some form of physical therapy concentrated around the joints most painful to you. Hydrotherapy is a very common type of arthritis treatment because it involves soothing movements performed in the water, which is very easy on the joints.
Some orthopaedic physicians will prescribe topical pain relievers, including medical creams or lotions, in order to ease some of the milder symptoms you may experience. This treatment is more common for patients who have arthritis pain in only a few joints, rather than pain throughout the body. Anti-inflammatory pain relievers can be used by patients with joint pain in many areas or just a few; these may be over-the-counter or by prescription. For those who experience moderate to severe pain, prescription pain medication is widely used to manage these symptoms. Finally, some patients will be offered steroids, either in pill, liquid, or injection form, to provide pain relief when simpler methods are ineffective.
About Surgical Care for Arthritis
Mild or moderate arthritis tends to respond well to the treatment options presented already, but some patients experience much more serious pain that can be quite debilitating. When arthritis pain becomes unmanageable, there are surgical treatment options that can be life-altering for these patients. Arthroscopic techniques can be used to trim away the injured cartilage, whichmight help the joint to move smoothly again. The entire joint can also be replaced, although this treatment is often a last resort for arthritis treatment. While it can restore some movement and reduce pain, a joint replacement surgery may pose infection and allergic reaction risks for the patients. Finally, fusing some smaller joints together, like those in the hand or foot, can alleviate some pain. Instability can result, so this procedure is also done very selectively.
About Arthritis Care at American Self
To diagnose or treat your own arthritis, you’ll need to connect with a clinic that offers top-notch service and the latest technology in their arthritis management. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Terry Whipple, the Director of Orthopaedics and Fitness at American Self. He provides his patients with a range of other procedural options to help with fitness, pain management, and other health concerns.
Dr. Ruth Hillelson is the Director of Plastic Surgery and Aesthetics at American Self. She has an extensive background in both cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgery, as well as a commitment to implementing the latest medical techniques and technologies.With both Dr. Hillelson and Dr. Whipple involved, American Self is a unique clinic for patients seeking procedures and treatments of all varieties. Contact their office, located at 9900 Independence Park Drive in Richmond, Virginia, by calling (804) 290-0060 to schedule your first consultation today.