All you wanted to know about Arthritis in Houston TX

What is arthritis?

Nearly 40 million Americans suffer from joint inflammation. Statistics reveal that one in seven people in the US are suffering from the condition, with over 100 types of arthritis affecting people of all ages. Arthritis means inflammation of joints, especially around tendons and muscles.

The most common types are:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Inflammatory condition where synovium is attacked, resulting inpainfully swollen, inflamed, and stiff joints
  • Osteoarthritis – Protective cartilage on the ends of bones breaks down resulting in stiff knee joints
  • Arthritis due to infection – A kind of septic arthritis that occurs due to some kind of infection
  • Other types of arthritis may include psoriasis, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), crystalline, and ankylosing spondylitis

Cartilage is a spongy, protective layer in the joints between bones that reduces friction while moving. If someone is suffering from osteoarthritis, cartilage is being made in their bodies but gets worn down at a faster rate, which causes friction, resulting in inflammation and pain in the joints. The deterioration of cartilage is greater in an obese person compared to the one who is of normal weight.

What are arthritis symptoms?

Arthritis is commonly associated with pain and inflammation of joints. Those suffering from the condition are in constant pain and experience stiffness in joints, affecting hands more often than other limbs. Redness and swelling, a burning sensation that radiates outward from the joints, muscle aches are common symptoms of arthritis. There may be a sudden onset of symptoms and they may persist over time or keep coming back.

Patients are limited in their scope to carry out routine tasks and may also experience swelling, redness, warmth, stiffness or tenderness in the joints with fatigue or fever. The severity of symptoms varies from one person to another. While the impact may be on the entire body system in some patients, others may feel only a few joints are affected. Most arthritis sufferers experience good and bad days.

Arthritis may also affect the bones between the pelvis and spine and cause pain, swelling, and stiffness of the joints. It may also cause other diseases and conditions, such as cardiac problems. According to a 2005 Mayo Clinic study published in Arthritis and Rheumatism, people with rheumatoid arthritis are at a higher risk of coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac deaths, and unrecognized heart attacks compared to the general population.

On most occasions, the sufferer may not be able to grip things well as they used to.

  • In rheumatoid arthritis, chronic joint inflammation and other symptoms last for more than two weeks, causing a loss of movement and mobility in joints. The condition typically affects both sides of the body. Rheumatism can often become disfiguring. Women are more prone to rheumatism than men.
  • The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is caused by mechanical deformities and abnormalities of a joint, which put it at a risk of degeneration. Also known as degenerative joint disease, this type of arthritis affects more women than men.

How do I know I have arthritis?

You may be suffering from arthritis if you have the symptoms mentioned above. Nevertheless before going for a treatment, it is advisable to go for proper diagnosis. A comprehensive medical history is required to diagnose the problem. A bone and joint X-Ray and complete blood count may be done for diagnosis. MRI can be used to get detailed images of joints, bones and soft tissues and detect minor changes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan may be done to get detailed information about joints, bones, and soft tissues. The MRI scan uses radio waves and magnetic field to produce cross-sectional images of the body, detecting minor changes in the body.

According to a June 2012 report published by Mayo Clinic, a “…myocardial strain imaging using a special type of ultrasound called speckle-tracking echocardiography can detect early abnormalities in heart function unique to rheumatoid arthritis patients, and may be an effective way to screen them for cardiovascular disease.”

How is arthritis caused?

Arthritis may be caused by a combination of factors, including injury, genetics, obesity that puts pressure on joints, or a physically demanding job which involves repetitive movements. Sometimes, allergic reactions or infections may also cause short-term arthritis, or reactive arthritis.

Recent evidence suggests that certain types of arthritis can be inherited. However, more research is needed to confirm this claim.

How is arthritis treated?

A combination of medical therapies, chiropractic care, and alternative therapies can provide substantial relief for rheumatoid arthritis patients and help them feel better and in control of their condition.

  • Medication therapy – NSAID, prescription drugs, cortisone shots
  • Alternative therapies – Acupuncture, massage, heat/cold therapy, and nutritional supplementation
  • Regenerative medicine treatments – Stem cell therapy, platelet rich plasma, radiofrequency ablation (which have over 80% success rate)

Since arthritis isn’t a fatal disease, most patients are able to avoid surgery by making a few adjustments in their way of life. While surgery results are not permanent, it is best to choose a comprehensive pain management therapy that helps ease arthritis symptoms and makes life a little easier for you. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis, it does not mean you have to give up your active lifestyle. Making a few lifestyle changes can bring relief.