What Is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a disease that produces inflammation in the joints causing pain and degeneration of the joint structure. Some arthritis pain is severe. There are several different types of arthritis. The major types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis arthritis. While these two types of arthritis are similar, the treatments for these two types are different.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most serious type of arthritis and joint pain. This type of arthritis is a type of autoimmune disorder. In other words, the body’s immune system is attacking the joints.When a patient presents with joint pain and inflammation, especially of the smaller joints in the hands and feet, the physician will suspect the rheumatoid type of arthritis. To test for this type of arthritis, the physician will take X-rays as well as blood tests such as a rheumatoid factor test, sedimentation rate and an anti-nuclear antibody test.The first line of treatment will be the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Some drugs in this class include ibuprofen, naproxen and meloxicam. Sometimes, courses of prednisone are given to alleviate joint inflammation. Also, many newer drugs are on the market that helps to stop the immune response in the joints thus leading to a reduction in inflammation and pain in the joints.Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the type of arthritis that most people are familiar with. It usually affects people who are over the age of fifty. This type of arthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints that destroys the joint cartilage. It can be very painful.

To test for osteoarthritis, the physician will order X-rays in order to determine the exact state of damage in a given joint. The extent of damage will determine the form of treatment received.

Many osteoarthritis suffers can receive relief from their arthritis pain by using over the counter drugs like acetaminophen, aspirin and ibuprofen. In more advanced cases, other NSAIDs are prescribed like piroxicam, meloxicam or indomethacin.

A newer form of osteoarthritis treatment, especially for the knee, is a series of injections into the joint with a product containing hyaluronic acid. This product helps to lubricate the joint and reduce pain.

If joint degeneration becomes severe, the patient may need to have joint replacement surgery. This type of surgery is common for the knee and hip.