EARLY WARNING SIGNS AND HOW TO FIND RELIEF
Contrary to popular belief arthritis is not an old person’s disease. Most people with arthritis are under the age of 65 according the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). More than 50 million adults of all sexes and races and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is the leading cause of disability in America. More women get it than men, and if you are part of the population that has diabetics, heart problems or struggle with obesity, the odds are not in your favor. Arthritis can impact any joint in the body like the knees, hips, spine and others.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
It could start as something as simple as getting a few bad nights of sleep in a row to the more obvious signs of swelling, pain, stiffness and limited motion. These symptoms may come and go and the pain can range from mild, moderate or severe. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, limited every day movements and activities. It can also become difficult to walk or climb stairs. In severe cases, arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. Sometimes you can see the changes such as knobby finger joints, but more often the damage can only be seen on an X-ray. Some types of arthritis can even affect organs like the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin.
WHAT IS ARTHRITIS AND WHY DOES IT IMPACT SO MANY PEOPLE?
Arthritis is very common, but it is not well understood because arthritis is not a single disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. When the slick, cushioning surface on the ends of bones called cartilage wears away, bone rubs against bone, causing pain, swelling and stiffness. Over time, joints can lose strength and pain may become chronic. Risk factors include excess weight, family history, age and previous injury like an anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, tear, for example.
A healthy immune system is protective. But the immune system can go awry, attacking the joints, potentially causing joint erosion and may damage internal organs, eyes and other parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are examples of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environmental factors can trigger autoimmunity. Smoking is an example of an environmental risk factor that can trigger rheumatoid arthritis in people with certain genes.
A bacterium, virus or fungus can enter the joint and trigger inflammation.Examples of organisms that can infect joints are food poisoning or contamination like salmonella and shigella, sexually transmitted diseases or a blood-to-blood infection, hepatitis C which can often be from shared needles or transfusions.
In some people, uric acid builds up and forms needle-like crystals in the joint, resulting in sudden spikes of extreme joint pain, or a gout attack. Some people naturally have high levels of uric acid or they can’t get rid of it fast enough. Uric acid is formed as the body breaks down, a substance found in human cells and in many foods called purines. If uric acid levels aren’t reduced, it can become chronic, causing ongoing pain and disability.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
Osteoarthritis can be prevented by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding injury and repetitive movements.
Mild or moderate osteoarthritis can be managed by:
- Balancing activity with rest
- Using hot and cold therapies
- Regular physical activity
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines
- Avoiding excessive repetitive movements
“If your joint symptoms go beyond mild and manageable it’s a good idea to see your doctor to get a correct diagnosis of what is causing your symptoms,” said Dr. Michael Hanes, Interventional Pain Specialist with Jacksonville Spine Center. “You want to determine the best treatment options available so you can limit the impact of arthritis, no matter what kind it is, on your quality of life.” “In some cases, added Dr. Hanes, “minimally invasive therapies such as join injections, radio frequency ablation, spinal stimulation or stem cell therapy may be appropriate and can drastically reduce pain and improve quality of life.”
The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, improve function, and prevent further joint damage. In many cases of infections arthritis, timely treatment with antibiotics may clear the joint infection, but sometimes the arthritis becomes chronic.
Arthritis diagnosis often begins with a primary care physician, who performs a physical exam and may do blood tests and imaging scans to help determine the type of arthritis. An arthritis specialist, or rheumatologist, should be involved if the diagnosis is uncertain or if the arthritis may be inflammatory. Rheumatologists typically manage ongoing treatment for inflammatory arthritis, gout and other complicated cases. Interventional pain management specialists are often consulted to help with pain symptoms.
Orthopaedic surgeons do joint surgery, including joint replacements. When the arthritis affects other body systems or parts, other specialists, such as ophthalmologists, dermatologists or dentists, may also be included in the health care team. Dr. Hanes recently published three articles in the journal of Neuromodulation, the leading research journal for spinal cord stimulation and intrathecal drug delivery. Click the links to read the articles”
PAIN EXPERTS CAN BRING RELIEF
The medical experts at Jacksonville Spine and Pain Center can provide an accurate diagnosis of arthritis pain and recommend a variety of treatments and procedures. Whether your pain is temporary or becoming more severe over time, it’s important to discuss treatment options with your doctor before it limits your mobility and ability to live your life.
For more information on arthritis or for any other pain relief procedures, call the Jacksonville Spine and Pain Center or Jacksonville Spine and Pain Center at St. Augustine for an appointment. Jacksonville Spine and Pain Center is also a Veterans Choice Program.
Call 904-223-3321 to get started today.