May is recognized as National Arthritis Awareness Month.

What is arthritis and what you should know about it?
Arthritis is one of the most common health conditions in the United States.

Affecting over 54 million men and women, arthritis can affect anyone – children, working-age adults, and older adults.

Contrary to what many people believe, arthritis is not a single disease. It’s a term that refers to joint pain or joint disease.

There are over 100 types of arthritis. Some of these may cause permanent damage to the joints and can even affect vital organs of the body such as the lungs, kidneys, and heart.

The two most common types of arthritis affecting Americans are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

It’s the most common type of arthritis, which involves the wear-and-tear damage of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part that cushions the ends of the bones, allowing for nearly frictionless joint movement. Over time, cartilage can wear off or get damaged, resulting in bone grinding directly on the bone, causing pain in certain movements.

Rheumatoid arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of arthritis that occurs as a result of a problem in the immune system. It’s an autoimmune disease on which the body’s own immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule. As a result, the synovial membrane (the connective tissue lining the capsule of the synovial joint) becomes swollen and inflamed. In the long run, it causes the cartilage and bone within the joint to get damaged.

What are the symptoms of arthritis?
Your symptoms may vary, depending on the type of arthritis you have. Some of the most common arthritis symptoms include:

  • Joint pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion

How is arthritis treated?
The treatment for arthritis depends on the type of arthritis you have. There are ways to manage symptoms and improve joint function.

Your provider may try you on one or a combination of the following:

Some of the drugs prescribed for arthritis sufferers include pain relievers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), counterirritants, corticosteroids, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (for rheumatic arthritis).

Physical therapy
Certain exercises can improve the range of motion and strengthen the muscles around the joints.

If conservative measures are not helpful or don’t provide enough relief for the arthritis symptoms, surgery may be suggested by the doctor.

If you are tired of living with arthritis, come and see us. The Center for Rheumatology at South Florida Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine is staffed with trained specialists who can assess your condition and curate the most appropriate treatment option for you. For appointments, please call us at (722) 288-2400.