Arthritis

 
Arthritis

John P. Sheehan, M.D. 
Boys Town Orthopaedics

Arthritis is an inflammatory joint disorder.  The inflammation is the body’s response to disease or injury.  Different types of arthritis have different symptoms and the symptoms can vary in severity from person to person.  Arthritis symptoms include:

  • Join pain and stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Warmth
  • Tenderness

Common Types of Arthritis

Arthritis effects millions of people of all ages and genders.  There are over a hundred types of arthritis, but the most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid, gout and juvenile arthritis.

Osteoarthritis Arthritis is also known as the wear-and-tear arthritis.  It occurs when the protective cartilage on the ends of your bones wears down over time. It most often affects the joints in your hands, hips, knees, neck and lower back. There is no cure, but treatment can slow the progression of the arthritis, relieve pain and improve joint function.

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disorder, where your immune system mistakenly attacks your own body’s tissue.  It causes chronic inflammation and destroys the cartilage and bone within the joint.  It usually begins in the small joints in your hands and feet and causes swelling which eventually leads to the joint losing its shape and alignment.  It is most common in women, people over the age of 40, or those who have family history of rheumatoid arthritis.  There is no cure.  Treatment focuses on controlling symptoms and preventing further joint damage.

Gout is a painful condition that occurs when the body cannot eliminate a natural substance called uric acid.  The acid can build up forming sharp, needle like crystals around the joint. Gout symptoms are usually acute and often happen at night without warning. Intense joint pain will occur in the feet, ankle, wrist or hands.  Lingering discomfort will continue over the next few days or weeks, combined with inflammation and tenderness.  Gout is treatable.

Juvenile Arthritis refers to any form of arthritis that develops in children who are less than 16 years of age.  Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type and causes persistent join pain, swelling and stiffness lasting for a few months to years. Treatment focuses on controlling the pain, preventing joint damage and improving function.

Arthritis Diagnosis

Arthritis is diagnosed through careful evaluation of symptoms and a physical examination.  An x-ray will be taken to show the extent of any damage to the joint.  Blood tests or other laboratory tests may be administered to determine the type of arthritis.   If you have persistent join pain, swelling or discomfort for more than two weeks, contact your physician.