Arthritis involves inflammation of joints and can be debilitating. Without treatment, the disease can significantly impact your quality of life. However, modern medicine offers several effective methods for dealing with arthritis.
The key to proper treatment is first to understand how the disease manifests in various ways. By learning about the common types of arthritis, you can better seek timely medical intervention and attain a better prognosis.
General Mechanisms of Arthritis
The joints in your body have varying complexities of construction. However, they all contain several layers of tissues and membranes to protect and secure the joint. Arthritis occurs when these protective structures become damaged or deteriorate, causing significant pain and swelling.
However, the process leading up to joint inflammation varies based on the type of arthritis you have. Differentiating among the various types is essential for proper management and treatment.
Osteoarthritis commonly develops across several years. It usually happens due to wear and tear damage, so some doctors refer to osteoarthritis as a degenerative joint disease.
Osteoarthritis targets the cartilage, which protects the bone surfaces inside the joint. Cartilage can take a longer time to heal, and mechanical stress can cause it to wear out gradually over the years. Without this protective cushion, bone surfaces may grind on each other upon movement.
While osteoarthritis occurs gradually, joint injuries can hasten the process. If you experience direct trauma or infection in a particular joint, you are at higher risk of developing osteoarthritis in that joint.
Note that osteoarthritis can also cause degenerative changes to other parts of the joint. The synovial membrane, which covers the entire joint capsule, can even deteriorate. Other connective tissues can also experience damage.
Treatment for osteoarthritis is often conservative. Physical therapy and medications can help restore joint functionality. Meanwhile, weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes can reduce stress on your joints. Surgery may be required if other options fail to alleviate pain.
While osteoarthritis comes from gradual wear and tear, rheumatoid arthritis has a faster disease process. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis have an overactive immune system that mistakes joint structures, such as the synovial membrane, as dangerous. As a result, the immune system launches an assault in an attempt to remove them. The resulting damage causes pain, inflammation, and deformity.
Rheumatoid arthritis may also affect other body parts aside from joints, including tissues in the lungs and heart. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are at higher risk for heart disease.
Several joints usually manifest symptoms at the same time if you have rheumatoid arthritis. Early treatment is crucial for rheumatoid arthritis, as treatment within the first six months can prevent many of its complications. Medications such as disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, modify the immune response to reduce rheumatoid arthritis progression. Many supportive treatments for osteoarthritis, like physical therapy, also work for rheumatoid arthritis.
Unlike other forms of arthritis, gout occurs episodically. Sudden episodes of gout can trigger at any time, followed by long periods of remission without significant symptoms.
Gout occurs due to high levels of uric acid in your blood. Uric acid is a natural byproduct of human metabolism, but it can crystalize if you have excess uric acid levels. These crystals can build up within joints and other spaces, causing pain and inflammation.
Gout typically occurs in the joints of the lower extremities, especially the big toe joint. During an attack, typical signs of inflammation such as pain, redness, and swelling can occur.
Gout prevention involves dietary changes. Avoiding certain items that increase uric acid levels, such as red meat and organ meat, can reduce the frequency of gout attacks. Anti-inflammatory medications can help you manage gout episodes, while other lifestyle changes can improve your joint health.
Arthritis Treatment in West Orange, New Jersey
The three common types of arthritis — osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout — affect patients differently. Consulting with experienced medical professionals will help you arrive at an optimal management plan.
Here at Hudson MD Group, we offer a wide range of healthcare services for patients with all types of conditions. Our growing number of specialists are committed to providing you with high-quality, personalized healthcare. Call us at (973) 705-4914 or use our contact form for any inquiries.