Arthritis Q & A

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. There are over 100 specific types of arthritis that affect more than 50 million American adults and children. It's most common in women and seniors. At Annandale Primary Care in Annandale, Virginia, the latest treatments available are given to patients with arthritis. Call or schedule an appointment online today.

What are common symptoms of arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis are:

Symptoms can come and go, but over time, they normally get worse. Severe cases of arthritis interfere with patients daily lives, making it hard to walk or perform other normal tasks. Arthritis can permanently change the joints, visibly seen, for example, in knobby fingers.

Arthritis is a chronic condition that does not have a single treatment available for all patients.

What is osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is also called degenerative arthritis and is the most common form. Cartilage in the joint wears away, creating a bone-to-bone contact that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling. Over time, people lose strength in the joint. This is most common in the hips and knees because they are weight-bearing joints. People who are overweight have a higher risk of developing osteoarthritis, as do those with previous joint injuries.

Osteoarthritis is managed best with a healthy weight and regular exercise. Many people use hot and cold therapy, and physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the joint. Joint replacement might be needed in severe cases.

Is arthritis caused by inflammation?

There is an autoimmune form of inflammatory arthritis called rheumatoid arthritis. When the body makes a mistake and attacks its joints with uncontrolled inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis occurs. This can erode the joint over time.

Genetics is a strong contributor to rheumatoid arthritis, but environmental factors are, too. For example, people who smoke are more likely to have rheumatoid arthritis if they have the gene for it. In other words, smoking can trigger the gene.

Sometimes, inflammatory arthritis is caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungus that contaminates the blood and travels to the joints. Antibiotic treatments are usually effective if the infection is caught early before it does too much damage.

What can I do to treat arthritis?

With both rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, early diagnosis and treatment are key because slowing the progression of the disease can minimize or prevent joint damage. With rheumatic forms, doctors will try to put your body in remission using medications called DMARDs, or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs.

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Undiagnosed patients can unknowingly transmit the disease to others. Early diagnosis can help to prevent or stop an outbreak.