Learn more about how LA Orthopedic Group can help manage the leading cause of disability.
Arthritis is joint inflammation disease that affects over 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the U.S. It is the nation’s leading cause of disability. Common symptoms include:
- Pain and stiffness
- Reduced range of motion
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Because there are many types of arthritis, there is no single cause. One of the main causes is a breakdown in cartilage. Cartilage protects joints, absorbs the shock of pressure on a joint and allows smooth movement. Without adequate cartilage, bones may rub together, which results in inflammation and stiffness. Other possible arthritis causes include injury, genetics, infection, immune system dysfunction and an abnormal metabolism. Certain risk factors aid in the development of arthritis, including age, gender, and obesity.
While there are more than 100 types of arthritis, most people have osteoarthritis. A degenerative (or wear-and-tear) condition, osteoarthritis frequently affects weight-bearing joints such as hips, feet, knees, and the spine. It begins gradually and may take months or years to fully develop. Obesity is a potential risk factor for developing osteoarthritis and makes the condition worse. Extra weight adds pressure to the joint, which pushes cartilage between bones. Cartilage is damaged and wears away. There is joint pain, and bumps or spurs may form on bone endings, but there is no fatigue or sick feeling.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another of the most common forms of the disease. Symptoms appear suddenly or gradually with rheumatoid arthritis, and they are typically more severe than osteoarthritis symptoms. An autoimmune disease, the body essentially attacks the joints. Left untreated, severe joint damage could develop. About 20 percent of sufferers develop skins lumps called rheumatoid nodules. They form over elbows, knuckles, heels, and other joints that get pressure. Other organs are at risk with RA, including eyes, lungs and the heart.
When to See an Orthopedic Doctor
When joint pain is so severe that it interferes with normal function, it’s time to see an orthopedic doctor. Orthopedists also help when there is progressive pain in the knees and hips that gets worse during weight-bearing instances. When a patient experiences joint or musculoskeletal pain after an injury, when other treatments for arthritis aren’t working, or when a joint needs replacing, an orthopedic physician should be consulted about treatment options. Nonsurgical treatments include rest, limiting activities that provoke arthritis pain, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines. Some patients are prescribed physical therapy or occupational therapy. These treatments are effective in pain reduction, strengthening cartilage tissue and improving flexibility and range of motion.
Surgical options include arthroscopy to remove cysts and bone spurs, as well as damages to the lining and any loose joint fragments. The doctor may perform osteotomy to realign long arm and leg bones, which takes pressure off joints. Another surgical option is joint fusion in which the joint is removed and bones are fastened together. While this eliminates the joint pain problem, it also eliminates flexibility. Some patients are treated with joint replacement. Part of bones are removed, and metal or plastic are used to create an artificial joint.