The Arthritis Foundation estimates that arthritis is the No. 1 source of disability in the United States, affecting more than 300,000 children and 50 million women and men. Arthritis isn’t a single disease. Instead, it’s a group of more than 100 joint conditions, the most common of which are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout.
Osteoarthritis wears out your joints
The type of arthritis that most women and men both have and are familiar with is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease that becomes more common with age. Due to overuse, excess weight, or other factors, the cartilage in your joints that cushions your bones gradually wears away.
Without cartilage, your bones grind against one another, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness. Your joint may be difficult to move or make a grinding or popping noises when flexed.
Untreated osteoarthritis gets worse over time. Your fingers and other joints may become deformed, knobby, and immobile. You may find it difficult to complete regular activities, such as walking up or downstairs.
Unfortunately, limiting your activities due to pain or stiffness in your joints only makes your arthritis worse. But with the help of the expert rheumatologists at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey, you can improve your symptoms or even reverse the damage by:
- Losing weight
- Staying active
- Strengthening muscles
- Using hot and cold therapies
- Avoiding repetitive movements
- Getting enough sleep and rest
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Taking painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications
In addition to lifestyle recommendations, your doctor may prescribe platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP) to help your body rebuild cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis sends your body into attack mode
Some combination of genetics and environmental factors seems to be at play in the development of rheumatoid arthritis, in which your immune system attacks your own joints, triggering an inflammatory response. Without treatment, the inflammation can travel to your eyes, internal organs, skin, and other bodily structures.
Both rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis (a type of arthritis that affects people who have the skin condition psoriasis) are examples of the inflammatory types of arthritis. Early diagnosis is critical to avoid permanent damage to your joints and organs. Your specialist at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey may recommend disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) to control inflammation and pain.
Gout stabs you in the foot
Gout is a form of arthritis that tends to attack the joint of your big toe. You develop gout when you eat foods that are high in purines, such as organ meats. When your body digests purines, it produces uric acid.
A high-purine diet leads to excess uric acid, which forms needle-like crystals in your toe joint, creating intense jabbing sensations. Gout pain tends to come and go, but often wakes you up in the middle of the night and can last for days. You can control or reverse gout by:
- Drinking more water
- Drinking less or no wine
- Eating more vegetables
- Eating less protein
- Exercising more
- Losing weight
If your joints are stiff, creaky, or painful, get an arthritis evaluation at Rheumatology Center of New Jersey. Call one of our four locations for a consultation.