May is arthritis awareness month. As such, it’s important to understand exactly what arthritis is, who’s at risk, and what the symptoms are. Whether you’re dealing with painful joints yourself or you have a loved one who is, the orthopedic specialists in Suffolk County, NY, want you to know that there are treatment options available.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a chronic condition that is caused by inflammation in the joints. Depending on the person, it can occur in one or many joints at the same time. There are more than 100 types of arthritis. They afflict people of all races, ages, and genders. Two of the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is sometimes called “degenerative joint disease.” It’s the most common joint condition and currently affects nearly 27 million Americans. While it can develop in people of any age, it’s most commonly found in those who are over the age of 65. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage in joints breaks down. As the joint moves, it causes swelling and pain. While it can occur in any joint, it most commonly is found in the knees, hips, back, and small joints of the finger. Typically, osteoarthritis worsens over time. Common symptoms of osteoarthritis include severe swelling, pain, redness, reduced range of motion, and heat coming from the affected joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is classified as an autoimmune disease. It occurs when the immune system within the body begins attacking the joints. When this occurs, it causes inflammation to the tissue inside the joints, resulting in pain and swelling. Over time, rheumatoid arthritis can damage the cartilage found within the joints, increasing the symptoms and even causing the sufferer to lose mobility. Unfortunately, the joint damage can’t be reversed. Unlike osteoarthritis, early onset is common. While rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any time, it typically manifests between the ages of 30 and 60. It’s thought that those with a family history of the disease are more likely to exhibit symptoms, though many sufferers have no hereditary link.
With both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, early intervention and diagnosis is key. With the right treatment plan, it’s much easier to slow the deterioration of the joints and reduce the amount of pain that you may be experiencing. Both rheumatologists and orthopedists can help treat arthritis and relieve your symptoms. By using a combination of therapies and medication, you could see a reduction in your discomfort. Common therapies include physical therapy, splints, braces, and heat or cold treatments.
Determining which treatment is best for your condition will depend greatly on your diagnosis. Peconic Bay Medical Center practices world-class orthopedic sports medicine in Suffolk County, NY, as well as rheumatology and much more. If you’re struggling with arthritis, explore your options by visiting www.pbmchealth.org today.