Arthritis is an umbrella term for a group of inflammatory conditions that affect one or more joints. It's something most people experience at a minor degree later in life, but for some patients, the inflammation of their joints is so severe that it becomes disabling.
There are a number of types of arthritis, but the two most common are:
Osteoarthritis is associated with aging. As osteoarthritis progresses, it will cause cartilage – the slippery tissue that protects the ends of the bone in the joint – to wear down. Without that protection, the bones rub together and swelling occurs. That swelling reduces the mobility of the joint, causing pain and stiffness.
On the other hand, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that targets joints. The immune system attacks the lining of the joint, called the synovium, causing it to become red, swollen and, sometimes, even disfigured.
Osteoarthritis is very simply about wear and tear on the cartilage of the joint, which is why it is something that older people experience. But it strikes younger people, as well, especially those who have repetitive use injuries to their joints. The overuse of a joint has the same effect as aging, which is why it's a benefit to see a sports medicine specialist like Dr. Candelora. He has spent years studying injuries that affect athletes including osteoarthritis.
It's unclear why some people develop rheumatoid arthritis. This is true for most autoimmune diseases, but it is possible that genetics are involved.
There are some common risk factors for osteoarthritis, including:
For most patients, the inflammation is a result of a combination of these conditions.
The exact treatment will depend on a number of factors including:
Dr. Candelora does a comprehensive exam for every patient to make a proper diagnosis and then he creates a targeted care plan that will usually involve home care, physical therapy, and medical treatments. In some cases, it may be necessary to replace the problem joint with a prosthesis.
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