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Arthritis FAQ

Whether arthritis affects you or someone you know, this disorder can be frightening. Knowing basic information on arthritis treatment can help relieve some of the anxiety that comes along with a diagnosis.

What does an arthritis diagnosis really mean?

There are many types of arthritis and to truly understand symptoms and implications, you should ask your orthopaedic surgeon at The Center for Reconstructive Joint Surgery.

Some form of arthritis affects one in seven Americans in their lifetimes. Arthritis most often targets knees, fingers, feet, and hips. These joints degrade and lose the soft cushion between the joints, causing inflammation and pain. The most common types of arthritis are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA), Ankylosing Spondylitis, Gout, Lupus and Psoriatic Arthritis.

Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease, primarily affects the joint cartilage, especially weight-bearing joints like the knees, ankles and feet. Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic inflammatory disease affecting the lining of the joints (synovium), typically affecting more than one joint in a symmetrical pattern. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease and affects about 1% of the United States population.

What are common arthritis causes?

The causes of arthritis depend on the form of the condition. Causes include injury (leading to osteoarthritis), metabolic abnormalities, such as gout and pseudogout, hereditary factors, infections, and unclear reasons (such as rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus).

Is arthritis genetic? Will I get arthritis if my father and mother had arthritis?

Some forms of arthritis, like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, appear to run in families. However, there are more than a hundred forms of arthritis and the causes for many of these are not clear. Because arthritis affects 1 in 7 Americans, odds are high that someone in each generation of a family will be affected.

What precautions can I take to slow the process of arthritis?

There is no cure for arthritis, early treatment is recommended to slow the process of joint deterioration. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, decrease pain and inflammation of the affected joints.

Some studies show that exercise can help slow the development of some types of arthritis. Vigorous physical exercise does not appear to damage the joints of people with certain types of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and may actually have a protective effect.

Arthritis treatment in New York City

Physical Therapy is a common treatment to reduce pain and increase physical function. A specialist can help regain movement in affected joints with regular sessions.

What are the most common types of treatments for arthritis?

The treatment of arthritis is dependent on the precise type of arthritis. An accurate diagnosis increases the chances for successful treatment. Treatments available include physical therapy, splinting, cold pack application, paraffin wax dips, anti-inflammation medications, immune-altering medications, and surgical operations.

Where is the best place to live, considering climate can affect arthritis symptoms?

Some people suffering from arthritis feel better in a warm, dry climate. However, climate will not alleviate the disease altogether. Symptoms may worsen if the barometric pressure goes down and the humidity goes up, but there are no conclusive studies. If you are considering moving to a warmer climate than New York, spend some time in your ideal destination and assess your symptoms.

By Dr. Steven Harwin