Arthritis is an inflammatory condition affecting one or more of your joints. It can cause stiffness and joint pain, and these symptoms can worsen with age. Please contact one of our board certified internists or primary care physician in NYC to set up a consultation for a thorough evaluation.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms of Arthritis?
The most common symptoms include:
- The affected joints may look red
- A decreased range of motion
- Swollen joints
The two most common forms of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that can begin in the lining of the joints, a tough membrane called the synovial membrane, and which can become swollen and inflamed. Eventually, rheumatoid arthritis can destroy the bone and cartilage in the joint.
Osteoarthritis affects the cartilage covering the bone that forms the joint, causing it to break down and most commonly occurs due to wear and tear. As the joint becomes damaged, it can result in the bone grinding directly against bone, restricting movement and causing pain.
Osteoarthritis may develop over many years, or it could develop more quickly because of infection or a joint injury.
Other types of arthritis may develop as a side-effect of diseases like lupus or psoriasis, or other infections. The treatment depends on the type of arthritis. Our priority is to improve your quality of life and to reduce the severity of symptoms.
Who Is More at Risk of Developing Arthritis?
Some factors can increase your risk of developing arthritis and which include:
- Frequently the risk of many types of arthritis will increase as you grow older.
- Women are more at risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, while men are more likely to develop another type of arthritis called gout.
- Extra weight puts additional stress on your joints and especially on your spine, hips, and knees.
- Previous joint injuries. If you have injured a joint before, there is a greater risk that you will eventually develop arthritis in that joint.
Your local doctor or one of our trusted and best doctors in NYC can assess your joints for signs of arthritis, and we may want to check how well you can move to evaluate your range of motion. Laboratory tests of blood, joint fluid, and urine can help to identify the type of arthritis. Diagnostic imaging is extremely useful.
Tests for arthritis may include:
- X-rays which can identify bone damage, cartilage loss, and bone spurs. Often, x-rays will not reveal the early signs of arthritis, but they are useful in tracking the progression of the disease.
- A computerized tomography (CT) scan creates a detailed cross-sectional view of internal structures and is useful for visualizing the bone and surrounding soft tissues.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves to provide even more detailed cross-sectional images of soft tissues, including ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.
- Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to image soft tissues and is extremely useful in guiding needle placement for joint injections or aspirations.
Arthritis Treatment in NYC
Each treatment provided is carefully tailored according to the type of arthritis identified during diagnostics. Arthritis treatment focuses on improving joint function and relieving symptoms. We may suggest combining several treatments to obtain the best outcome. Treatment options include medications, surgery, and exercises.
Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
Rheumatoid arthritis isn’t curable, but treatment may be more effective when begun early, most frequently with medications called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
These help to slow the progression of the disease, protecting the joints and other tissues from more permanent damage. Newer DMARDs are also called biologic response modifiers and can target parts of the immune system that can trigger the inflammation causing tissue and joint damage.
Other treatments may use corticosteroid medications like prednisone to reduce inflammation and pain and to slow down joint damage. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, while stronger NSAIDs can be prescribed if required.
Osteoarthritis Treatment Options in NYC
Like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis isn’t curable, but treatments can help to increase your range of movement and reduce pain. NSAIDs are also used to treat osteoarthritis.
Acetaminophen can assist people with mild to moderate pain. Duloxetine is normally prescribed as an antidepressant but can also help relieve the chronic pain of osteoarthritis.
We prefer to take a conservative approach to your treatment, but if other measures fail to help significantly, we may suggest surgery.
Sometimes it is possible to realign or smooth joint surfaces, improving function and reducing pain. Often these procedures can be performed using only small incisions over the joint.
If your joint is badly damaged, we can replace it with an artificial joint. The most commonly replaced joints are knees and hips.
Usually, this procedure is used for small joints in the fingers, wrists or ankles, removing the ends of the bone in the joint so they can be locked together, healing to form a rigid unit.
This treatment may be useful for people with rheumatoid arthritis and removes the inflamed synovium and is performed on the wrists and fingers, elbows, and on your knees and hips.
Sometimes the inflammation can damage the tendons, and it may be possible to repair them with surgery.
Treating Arthritis with Exercise
Often, arthritis will affect a specific joint and especially if caused by a previous injury. When prescribing an arthritis knee treatment, for example, we may suggest exercises to help strengthen the knee joint and which can help to relieve pain. The right exercise can help your knees to maintain a range of motion and especially exercises that strengthen the quadriceps that run along the front of the thigh. Exercising will strengthen the muscle supporting the joints and may help with other forms of arthritis. It reduces the risk of injuring your knees, and if you do need surgery, recovery should be easier. Exercise can also help with hip arthritis treatment, strengthening the muscles that support your hips. These exercises will stretch the tendons and muscles around the joint, easing pain. Arthritis in hands treatments can also involve exercise, but some people find hot and cold therapy useful or wearing a wrist splint or brace.
In addition to teaching you the most appropriate exercises to help keep your joints flexible, we can also show you new ways to do daily tasks which can reduce the stress on your joints.