Arthritis is an inflammation of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to your joint’s cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones. Enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the body’s immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining, known as the synovial membrane, becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
Gout develops when an excess of uric acid accumulates in your joints and forms crystals. This leads to inflammation and severe pain which usually comes on suddenly, and is described as a gout “attack”. If a susceptible individual is untreated, these attacks can occur multiple times a year and become disabling.
Depending on the type of arthritis you have, your signs and symptoms may include:
Severe arthritis, particularly if it affects your hands or arms, can make it difficult for you to do daily tasks. Arthritis of weight-bearing joints can keep you from walking comfortably or sitting up straight. In some cases, joints may become twisted and deformed.
During the physical exam, your doctor will check your joints for swelling, redness and warmth. He or she will also want to see how well you can move your joints.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosis is done through lab test and imaging tests. Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and improving joint function. Medications and physical therapy are typically what doctors recommend first. If these measures don’t help, your doctor may suggest joint repair, joint replacement or joint fusion surgery.
When to see your Doctor
If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms, book your appointment online to schedule a visit with a CareMount Medical primary care provider.