Arthritis may be used to describe body pain, but the different types of arthritis can vary significantly based on the way they affect the human body. Some forms of arthritis affect strictly your bones and joints; others, may start to attack your organs and affect your immune system. These are the three most common types of arthritis, how they are diagnosed and what treatment for them may look like.
Also called “the wear and tear disease,” osteoarthritis (OA) presents as the human body ages. During this process, bones and their protective cartilage begin to break down. The deterioration of protective cartilage that serves as a cushion between the bones and joints may make movement painful and flexibility difficult.
While the effects of OA can’t be reversed, you can manage your symptoms and pain with lifestyle changes. Keeping up with your exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and diet and regular physical therapy can help keep your pain at bay. Should your symptoms worsen or you find you are no longer able to live with the pain, you should talk to your doctor about necessary anti-inflammatory or pain medication or possible surgery.
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is different from osteoarthritis because it is classified as an autoimmune disease. RA occurs when the immune system starts to attack your body and healthy tissue, causing pain and inflammation within your joints. Over a long period of time, the damage can become irreparable.
A series of tests and exams – to include complete blood count (CBC), radiographs of certain joints, and antinuclear antibody (ANA) testing – will help your doctor determine if in fact your symptoms are those of RA.
Your doctor will likely recommend you take over-the-counter medication before deciding whether you need to address the pain with steroids or more aggressive pain management medication. They will also likely prescribe disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs, to stop the progression of the disease in an attempt to halt further damage. Many doctors are also turning to regenerative medicine, such as non-embryonic stem cell treatments and platelet rich plasma therapies, to treat RA.
Psoriatic arthritis creates stiffness and pain in multiple joints, and symptoms can flare up, fade away, and even change location in your body. Doctors will look for swelling close to the tips of the toes and fingers, leading to brittle or cracked nails; it can also find its way to the lower back, wrist, knees, ankles, and tendons.
Because symptoms often mimic other arthritic and inflammatory diseases, psoriatic arthritis can be hard to diagnose. Your doctor will perform a series of blood tests and other diagnostics to rule our RA, gout or other conditions before determining you do in fact have psoriatic arthritis.
If so, your doctor will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory medication or recommend NSAIDs for psoriatic arthritis, but also focus on taming your immune system. Should the damage to your joints become severe, your doctor may also recommend joint replacement surgery.
While there are a number of clues that can help you determine which sort of arthritis you might have, the only way to know for sure is to get checked out by a medical professional.
The friendly staff at Advanced Medical is well versed in the diagnostics and treatment of arthritis and looks forward to serving you. If you have any questions about our primary care services, please call our office at (561) 434-1935. To schedule an appointment, you can call us or use our secure online appointment request form.