The most common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
You may notice redness on your skin around the joint.
Some people experience a decrease in range of motion.
Symptoms of arthritis vary for each individual.
Symptoms may worsen with activity level or even time of day.
Those who struggle with rheumatoid arthritis may experience a loss of appetite or exhaustion due to the inflammation the immune system’s activity creates.
When the cartilage becomes worn or damaged this leads to joint pain and inflammation and can lead to loss of motion and even deformity.
Arthritis is caused by a reduction in the amount of cartilage protecting your joints.
Cartilage is a connective tissue in your joints that is both firm and flexible. It serves as a protective layer to the joints by absorbing the pressure and shock that occurs when you move.
When the necessary amount of cartilage is no longer present, this causes some forms of arthritis.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis (OA), is caused by wear of the cartilage.
An infection or injury to the joints can make the natural breakdown of your cartilage tissue progress at an accelerated rate.
You may be at a higher risk of developing OA if someone in your family has had the disease.
If you think you are experiencing arthritis symptoms, start by scheduling a visit with your primary care physician. They will perform a physical exam and check for fluid around your joints, red or warm joints, and the range of motion in your joints. If necessary, your doctor will refer you to a specialist.
If your symptoms already seem severe, consider scheduling an appointment with a specialist first. This should lead to a quicker diagnosis and treatment.
In order for a doctor to determine what kind of arthritis you have, they will analyze inflammation levels in your blood and joint levels. Blood tests are used to check for specific antibodies like rheumatoid factor and antinuclear antibody.
X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans are used to project an image of your bones and cartilage. This is done so doctors can rule out any other possible causes of your symptoms.
Arthritis treatment results vary for each individual. Over time you will learn what works best to control your pain. For some, it may be ice packs and heating pads. Others prefer to use canes or walkers to relieve pressure on sore joints. Improving joint function is another way to relieve pain.
There are many different types of medication that can be used to treat arthritis. Your doctor will be able to help you determine which treatment is best for you.
One form of treatment is a steroid injection. Steroid injections typically provide pain relief for several weeks. The number of times these injections can be used is limited due to possible harmful side effects.
Physical therapy is also an option for treatment. Physical therapy involves exercises that help strengthen the muscles around the harmed joints.
If nonsurgical treatment is unsuccessful, there are many surgical options to consider. If there is any way the joint can be preserved or reconstructed, this method is usually chosen. When the damage is severe enough, a joint replacement or a fusion (arthrodesis) is performed. As with any surgical procedure, you should consult with an orthopaedist who is well versed in current surgical techniques and discuss the best option for your particular needs.
There are a number of lifestyle changes that can help improve arthritis. Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the risk of developing OA or reduce symptoms if you already have OA. Eating a healthy diet is important not only for weight loss but to reduce inflammation. Choose a diet with lots of antioxidants like fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish. We recommend avoiding fried foods, dairy products, processed foods, and large amounts of meat. Incorporating regular exercise into your lifestyle will help keep your joints flexible. Many people who struggle with arthritis prefer swimming because it doesn’t put pressure on your joints as walking would. However, do not overexert yourself. Listen to your body and exercise at an appropriate rate.
Although there is no cure for arthritis, the correct treatment can greatly reduce your pain and symptoms. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and try to live a healthy lifestyle to manage your arthritis.
Michael F. Blum, M.D., completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1985. He graduated medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham in 1989 and completed an Orthopaedic Surgery Residency in 1995. Dr. Blum began his orthopaedic practice in Alexander City, Alabama, and relocated to Birmingham to become one of the founding owners of Southlake Orthopaedics Sports Medicine and Spine Center. Dr. Blum’s practice has a special emphasis on sports medicine and joint replacement/reconstruction.
George Robert Booker, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at Auburn University in 2001 where he graduated magna cum laude with a major in Microbiology. He completed medical school at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama in 2005 and completed an orthopaedic surgery residency in 2010 at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Booker began in his practice at Southlake Orthopaedics Sports Medicine and Spine Center in 2010. He completed his board certification process in July of 2012 and is a current diplomate of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons.
Southlake Orthopaedics welcomes Dr. Jones as the newest member to our orthopaedic team in January 2019. Dr. Jones has been a respected orthopaedic surgeon practicing in the Birmingham area for the last 19 years. When he finished his residency in 2000, he joined his father’s orthopaedic practice at Brookwood Orthopedics. He has most recently been in practice at Powell & Jones Orthopedics Center, which he formed In 2014 with his father and Dr. Thomas Powell. We are delighted to have him associate with our group. Dr. Jones offers his expertise in treating adult and pediatric patients with musculoskeletal conditions. He also offers treatment in sports medicine, arthritis, and workers’ comp. Dr. Jones has an interest in arthroscopic and minimally invasive techniques of the shoulder and knee.
Dr. CJ Talbert is termed a general orthopaedic surgeon with a sub-specialty interest in spine. Over 80% of his practice involves evaluation and treatment of spine conditions. This includes neck, middle and lower back, and sacrum issues. He also has considerable experience dealing with complex adult degenerative problems, particularly hip and knee.
Dr. Talbert has had special training at AI Dupont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington, Delaware, with Dr. G. Dean MacEwen, who is a world-recognized authority in the field of scoliosis and childhood hip disorders. At Southlake Orthopaedics, he can diagnose and manage most childhood orthopaedic conditions.