Arthritis affects 25% of adults, eventually causing enough pain to force up to half of them to occasionally take time off from work or to skip the daily activities they enjoy. The exceptional primary care providers at Raritan Family Healthcare offer individualized care for arthritis, with a focus on easing pain, maintaining optimal movement, and delaying progressive joint damage. If you need help with painful, stiff joints, call the office in Raritan or Bedminster, New Jersey, or book an appointment online today.
Arthritis generally refers to joint inflammation, a generic condition that represents many diseases. However, two types of arthritis account for most cases: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis can develop in any joint, but it most often begins in large weight-bearing joints like your knees and hips. This type of arthritis develops as cartilage breaks down due to daily wear and tear on the joint.
Cartilage protects the ends of the bones inside the joint. As more cartilage wears away, the bones grate against one another, ultimately resulting in bone damage and bone spurs.
As an autoimmune disease, rheumatoid arthritis develops as your immune system attacks the synovial tissues lining joints. The joint becomes inflamed and, without treatment, the ongoing inflammation erodes the bones and causes joint deformities.
Though rheumatoid arthritis can affect any joint, it usually begins in the small joints of your hands and feet. Rheumatoid arthritis also affects the same joints on both sides of your body.
Arthritis causes joint pain and stiffness. As the disease progresses, joint movement becomes increasingly limited. In the case of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, the pain feels worse in the morning and after activities that use the affected joint.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, the inflammation causes joint swelling and general fatigue. Some people with rheumatoid arthritis also develop inflammatory conditions throughout their body. When that happens, you develop symptoms in areas such as your eyes, skin, and lungs.
Raritan Family Healthcare creates customized treatment plans for each patient, but caring for arthritis typically includes the following:
Even though it may hurt to use the joint, it's important to keep moving. Exercise reduces inflammation, eases pain, and maintains the best possible mobility. Strengthening the muscles supporting weight-bearing joints can slow down the damage.
Your provider recommends exercises that are safe for your joints. They also talk with you about when to rest the joint. For example, you should cut down on activity when your rheumatoid arthritis flares up.
Maintaining a healthy weight slows down the progression of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have rheumatoid arthritis, taking disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) can keep your disease in remission and slow down or stop future joint damage.
Though there aren't currently any medications that can protect your joints from osteoarthritis, your provider may recommend acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or steroids to relieve pain.
If you need help with arthritis, call Raritan Family Healthcare or book an appointment online today.