Dear Doctor: My joints are hurting, do I have arthritis?

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis means inflammation (swelling, redness, pain, damage) around a joint. The cartilage on the end of the bones deteriorates.

What causes Arthritis?

There can be certain systemic diseases like Gout, Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriatic arthritis, Spondylitis that can cause “arthritis”. What we think of as “old age arthritis” is usually secondary to osteoarthritis. The exact cause of osteoarthritis is unknown.

What are the symptoms of Arthritis?

Arthritis usually is manifested by swelling, redness, stiffness and pain in the joints involved. It can be accompanied by stiffness in the morning that lasts for greater than 30 minutes. The pain may wake you up at night and usually tends to worsen with activity.

What is the treatment for my arthritis?

The treatment depends on the underlying type of arthritis. This can be determined by taking a detailed history, x-rays and occasionaly some blood work. Appropriate medications can then be started to improve or halt the pain and damage in the joint so you can continue enjoying life and your daily activities. Other options include injections into the knee. Two types of injections are possible. A steroid shot is used to decrease pain and inflammation. A Hyaluranic injection is a series of 3 shots that replace molecules deficient in an arthritic knee and also act as a lubricant. Joint replacement is the ultimate surgical option.

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