There are two basic forms of arthritis, which is a word that simply means “inflammation of the joints.” Arthritis in both forms can be painful and life-altering.
Commonly, the joints affected include hands, fingers, toes, and knees. When these hurt, range of motion can be reduced and the pain can steer patients away from work or activities they enjoy.
Both types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, eventually cause the cartilage in the joints to break down. Osteoarthritis (osteo means related to bones) is the most common form of arthritis and it is caused by wear and tear on the cartilage that results from overuse.
As such, osteoarthritis is commonly found in the hands and fingers, because we use them so much. However, people who suffer from osteoarthritis in the hands often have the condition in other joints, as well.
Osteoarthritis is also associated with long-time athletes, such as football players or tennis players who have the condition in their knees due to repeated injuries to the knees or simply by years of overuse.
Cartilage is a connective tissue found in joints. It is flexible but on the stiff side. It allows joints to move while keeping the bones from rubbing together. When it breaks down, the joint becomes bone against bone, which causes pain and inflammation.
Rheumatoid arthritis targets a slightly different tissue and is the result of a different culprit than overuse or injury. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the synovial membrane, a membrane that lines the capsule of synovial joints, of which there are many.
Rheumatoid arthritis also puts your cartilage at risk, once it progresses far enough.
Medication and Treatment
Medical responses to arthritis include use of the following medications and therapies:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Analgesic drugs, such as Advil, Aleve, and ibuprofen
- Antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that slow or stop the immune system
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Education and support
- Weight loss
- Various aids, such as walkers, canes and “reacher-grabber” tools
- Joint replacement
If you find you or someone you know is suffering from chronic joint pain, do not hesitate to call Pacific Medical Care at 619-333-8114 in San Diego. No one should suffer from arthritis any longer than they have to. Putting off treatment can result in further damage to your joints, requiring a more intensive medical response once treatment is sought.