Arthritis: A Break Down

Arthritis Is More Common Than You Think

NKJI Knee with and without OA

When you hear the word arthritis, the most popular association is with an overused body part on someone older than yourself. Whether you are 10, 25, or over 50 years old, you can develop arthritis. Arthritis is much more than a generalized name for having a sore and stiff body from old age. In fact, more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children live with some type of arthritis in the United States.

The truth is that there are more than a dozen types of arthritis. Arthritis is so much more than a blanket diagnosis for anyone suffering from joint pain or related conditions. A simple definition of arthritis is a condition in which one or more of your joints are inflamed.

Some of the most common symptoms involve swelling, pain, soreness, stiffness, and limited movement of a joint. The symptoms can come and go or remain as chronic conditions, progressing over the years to become more severe and debilitating. In severe cases, arthritis can cause permanent alterations to the joint.

The Four Main Types of Arthritis

As mentioned, there are several types of arthritis, each with its own causes, symptoms, and treatments. Understanding the main four types can help you choose the right arthritis pain relief treatment. Let’s take a look at them one by one.

Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis is a form of noninflammatory arthritis.

The most common type of degenerative arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA). Degenerative arthritis, also known as noninflammatory arthritis, can be preventable or more easily managed compared to other types of arthritis. The most common type of degenerative arthritis is osteoarthritis (OA).

Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage at the end of the joint bones wears away, causing them to rub together. Over time, the joints can lose their strength and ability to work properly due to pain and stiffness, weakening the joint itself and resulting in permanent joint damage and chronic pain. In severe enough cases, joint replacement surgery is required for arthritis pain relief.

However, other osteoarthritis treatments are available, including platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy, hyaluronic acid injections, and stem cell therapy. Alternatively, you can use arthritis relief devices like braces, splints, walkers, and offset canes. These devices can help alleviate your pain during daily activities.

Inflammatory Arthritis

The most common types of inflammatory arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis.

When your immune system is working at its best, it will use inflammation to get rid of or prevent disease or infections. However, this same safety feature can cause the body to use inflammation to attack healthier parts of itself, which can damage joints or major organs. This form of arthritis is believed to be a mix of genetics and environmental factors. Environmental factors (such as smoking) can trigger inflammation.

Because of the way that inflammation interacts with the body, it is often referred to as autoimmune arthritis. Early diagnosis and a more aggressive treatment plan are crucial to prevent permanent joint damage with inflammatory/autoimmune arthritis conditions. Since the body is using a healthy self-defense strategy against itself, the inflammation can cause damage to internal organs, which makes treatment extremely critical.

Remission is the goal with this type of arthritis. The treatment for inflammatory arthritis is not the same as osteoarthritis treatment. It often involves using corticosteroids or disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to suppress the immune system.

Infectious Arthritis

Organisms can cause infections that can lead to arthritis.

Many types of organisms can affect the body and result in infectious arthritis. These organisms can come from food poisoning or contamination (salmonella or shigella), sexually transmitted diseases (chlamydia or gonorrhea), or a blood infection through shared needles or transfusion (hepatitis C). When the body is infected with an organism that affects the joint, it needs to be treated with antibiotics to clear out the infection quickly. However, this can result in a chronic form of arthritis.

There is no treatment to get rid of the chronic pain. However, you can use different arthritis pain relief methods, including physical therapy, hot and cold therapy, exercise, painkillers, and other osteoarthritis treatments like hyaluronic acid injections and stem cell therapy.

Metabolic Arthritis

Some forms of arthritis come from the body’s inability to regulate natural wastes.

When the body breaks down purines (a substance found in human cells and many foods), it creates a compound called uric acid. Some individuals have higher levels of uric acid, so much so that the body simply cannot rid itself of it quickly enough.

The buildup of excess uric acid can form needle-like crystals in the joint, causing spikes of extreme joint pain and swelling. The most common variation of metabolic arthritis is Gout. A gout attack can come and go through episodes or become chronic if the uric acid levels are not managed and reduced.

We Can Help with Your Arthritis Pain

At the Northeast Knee and Joint Institute, we can help those dealing with various forms of arthritis increase their quality of life. We use an alternative to using a steroid injection or pain medications to mask your pain symptoms by using your own body’s defenses to treat your symptoms.

Through our osteoarthritis treatment, we can help you get back on your feet – without surgery. We can also incorporate platelet-rich plasma therapy and stem cell therapy into your treatment plan to help the body through regenerative medicine. Contact us today to schedule a risk-free consultation.