Arthritis isn’t a single disorder. It’s a term that encompasses more than 100 different types of inflamed and sore joints. The type of arthritis you have determines the kind of treatment that will help you live a more comfortable, pain-free life.
Our expert rheumatologists at the Rheumatology Center of New Jersey diagnose and treat all types of arthritis. Following are the five most common types, as well as some tips on the best ways to manage them.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis and is usually the result of the wear-and-tear of age or an acute joint injury.
If you have OA, the protective cartilage that cushions your joints has started to wear away. The bones in your joints grind against one another, causing pain, inflammation, and complications such as bone spurs.
Treating OA may involve lifestyle changes, such as exercising more, losing weight, and switching to a noninflammatory diet.
If your joints are extremely painful and stiff, we may recommend injections of medications, lubricants, or platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease. That means, for unknown reasons, your immune system attacks the cartilage and other tissues in your joints as if they were pathogens. In addition to being painful and stiff, your joints may be swollen, red, or warm.
The lifestyle changes and medications for OA are also helpful for RA. But if you have extreme pain, we may recommend a class of drugs called biologics to reduce inflammation.
You may think of psoriasis as solely a skin condition, but it can affect your joints, too. Like RA, psoriatic arthritis (PA) is an autoimmune disease, which means your body attacks healthy tissue, such as your skin and cartilage.
If you have PA, you may have scaly skin and swollen fingers. Lifestyle changes may help, but you may also need such medications as methotrexate, cyclosporine, apremilast, and biologics.
As with the other types of arthritis, PA is a lifelong condition, so you should concentrate on managing symptoms and improving your quality of life.
Gout is a type of arthritis that usually affects the big toe joint, but it can also affect other joints, particularly in your knees, ankles, or feet.
Gout is neither a wear-and-tear disease nor is it an autoimmune condition. Gout is caused by an overabundance of uric acid in your body that occurs when you consume foods and beverages that are high in substances called purines.
Purines are present in rich foods such as red meat, organ meat, and shellfish. When your body digests purines, it produces uric acid. Too much uric acid builds up in your joints — particularly in your toe — and forms sharp, painful crystals.
The main treatment for gout is prevention by minimizing purine-heavy foods. But if you have an acute attack, you could benefit from such medications as:
Some of these drugs alleviate inflammation and pain while others help you process or reduce uric acid so it doesn’t form crystals.
Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that can affect all of your organs, including your skin and joints. If you have lupus, stiff painful joints may be only one of your complaints. Other symptoms could include:
Lifestyle changes, such as eating a noninflammatory diet and getting plenty of exercise, may ease lupus symptoms. To alleviate painful joints or prevent complications, such as organ damage, we may also recommend one or more of these medications:
If you have stiff, painful joints, don’t write them off as just a normal part of aging. Call us for a consultation and diagnosis today so you get the right treatment for your type of arthritis. You may also request an appointment using our online tool.
Our offices are located in Somerville, Flemington, and Monroe, New Jersey.