Arthritis Paramus, NJ
Treat Your Arthritis
Arthritis is very common, but is sometimes mistaken to be a single disease. There are actually 100 different types of arthritis affecting over 40 million American adults and 300,000 children. Arthritis more common among women and its occurrence increases with age. Sometimes people use the term as a loose way of referring to joint pain (“I probably have an arthritic hip”), but arthritis by definition is inflammation in the joints. Certain types of arthritis can also affect other parts of the body such as the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys, and skin, in addition to the joints.
What are the types of arthritis and their causes?
Of the 100 different types of arthritis, they can be broken down into four basic categories: degenerative arthritis, inflammatory arthritis, infectious arthritis, and metabolic arthritis.
Degenerative arthritis — Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis (affecting 16 million Americans) and is the main form of degenerative arthritis. At the Hartzband Center, osteoarthritis is the form of arthritis we typically work with. It occurs when the cartilage, the cushioning surface on the ends of the bones, wears away over time or is affected from previous injury. Without the cushion of the cartilage, ligaments and tendons can strain and bone can eventually rub against bone, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness.
Inflammatory arthritis — We all need healthy immune systems to combat the various bacteriological and viral threats to the body that we encounter all the time. To fight infections, the immune system creates inflammation. But when the immune system attacks parts of the body instead of invading pathogens, that’s a problem. In this type of arthritis the immune system attacks the joints creating uncontrolled inflammation, damaging the joints. Rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis are the most common forms of inflammatory arthritis. Researchers believe a combination of genetic and environmental factors trigger this improper immune system reaction.
Infectious arthritis — Bacteria, a virus, or a fungus can enter a joint and cause inflammation. This leads to various forms of infectious arthritis. This can come from salmonella and shingella in food poisoning, chlamydia and gonorrhea in sexual transmitted diseases, and hepatitis C in blood infections.
Metabolic arthritis — Purine is found in human cells and in many foods. When the body breaks it down, uric acid is formed. Some people have high levels of uric acid because they naturally produce more than is needed or their bodies can’t get rid of uric acid efficiently enough. This uric acid buildup can form needle-like crystals in the joints, leading to a sudden jolt of extreme joint pain. This is known as a gout attack. If the uric acid levels are not reduced it can become chronic.
What causes arthritis pain?
Arthritis pain comes from a combination of different sources: inflammation of the synovial membrane (tissue that lines the joints), tendons, ligaments, muscle strain, or muscle fatigue. The pain varies greatly from person to person. Swelling within the joint, the amount of heat or redness present, or the degree of joint damage all impact the amount of pain the person feels.
What are the different ways to treat arthritis?
Treating arthritis comes down to managing the pain and improving the function of the joints. At the Hartzband Center for Hip & Knee Replacement, we work mostly with osteoarthritis and sometimes rheumatoid arthritis patients. Here are some of the treatments we pursue in the short term and long term.
Medications — For osteoarthritis, patients don’t usually have much inflammation, so pain relievers such as acetaminophen may be used. For rheumatoid arthritis patients suffering from joint inflammation, aspirin or anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen are used.
Heat and cold — Whether to ice or heat the joints again depends on the type of arthritis. If pain without inflammation is the issue, a heating pad or hot shower can be beneficial to alleviate the pain. With inflammation, icing for 15 minutes will reduce the swelling and stop the pain.
Protection — Braces, canes, orthodontics and other devices that take pressure off the joints can be used. These serve to also protect the joint from further damage.
Acupuncture — Although we do not provide this treatment, acupuncture can be a short- or long-term treatment option. Acupuncture stimulates the release of the body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals and has been used to relieve pain for thousands of years. Its efficacy, however, varies between patients.
Corticosteroids — Hormones are effective in relieving pain for longer periods. Prednisone can be taken for rheumatoid arthritis. Corticosteroids can also be injected into the joint area and can relieve the pain for months.
Weight management — Reducing pressure on the weight-bearing joints through weight loss can reduce the pain and progression of osteoarthritis in the knees and hips.
Exercise — Various low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, low-impact aerobics, and range-of-motion exercise may reduce joint pain and stiffness. Strengthening the muscles surrounding the joints is also helpful.
Surgery — At Hartzband, we are expert in all facets of knee and hip joint replacement. This can be in response to osteoarthritis, where the joint is so damaged that the patient avoids use of the joint in question and pain is chronic. It can also be the result of rheumatoid arthritis that has attacked the joint and seriously damaged it. There are a variety of surgical procedures available for partial or full knee and hip replacements. In the past, these surgeries have involved lengthy incisions, but new methods continue to offer much less invasive surgical options, with easier recoveries. The lifespan of the replacement appliances also continues to expand. For patients with severe pain and joint damage, total joint replacement can provide almost total pain relief, plus a dramatic improvement in joint function.
Don't just tolerate the pain of arthritis. Visit Hartzband Center for Hip & Knee Replacement in Paramus, New Jersey to begin your treatment process. Call (201) 291-4040 to schedule your consultation today. You can also read more on arthritis and our other services on our blog.