Chronic or recurring joint pain and tenderness is the chief symptom of all forms of arthritis. If you're developing arthritis symptoms, board-certified neurologist Miguel Pappolla, MD, at St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine in Houston, Texas, can help. Dr. Pappolla and his team are experts in treating chronic pain problems, of which arthritis is one of the most common. You can benefit from their experience by calling the office or booking an appointment online today.
More than 100 conditions belong under the umbrella of arthritis, and they all cause chronic joint pain.
Some forms of arthritis affect multiple joints while others develop in specific joints — gout, for instance, commonly affects the big toe joints. The most common form (osteoarthritis) develops after years of wear-and-tear on your joints.
Osteoarthritis occurs when the articular cartilage covering the bones in your joints starts to degrade and erode. Ultimately, the bones underneath the worn cartilage begin to rub against each other, triggering inflammation and pain.
In contrast, another relatively common form of arthritis — rheumatoid arthritis or RA — is due to an immune system dysfunction. When you have RA, your immune system responds as though certain healthy cells in your joint linings were invading organisms. It destroys the cells, leaving your bones unprotected and inflamed.
Arthritis symptoms typically come on slowly, starting with discomfort and heat in the affected joints. The way your symptoms develop varies depending on the type of arthritis you have. However, in time, you can expect to have frequent or constant joint pain and swelling.
As well as being painful, arthritis causes your joints to get progressively weaker and stiffer, affecting your mobility and eventually causing significant disability.
People with arthritis often find that their symptoms worsen if they overexert themselves, when they're under stress, or if the weather is cold and wet.
Dr. Pappolla uses conservative treatments initially when helping patients with arthritis. Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce swelling and pain, and you might find hot compresses offer some relief.
It's also important to assess your lifestyle, as a poor diet, stress, smoking and drinking, and being overweight or obese can all make your arthritis worse.
Some types of arthritis require specific treatments. With rheumatoid arthritis, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) could help. With gout, you need to change your diet to limit the quantity of uric acid in your blood, and you may need medications to lower uric acid production.
As your condition progresses, you may benefit from joint injections containing steroid medication. Steroid injections are an effective method of reducing inflammation and pain, with the effects sometimes lasting for several months or more.
Physical therapy is also vital, as joints soon get worse unless you stay mobile.
If you're experiencing the onset of arthritis, you can preserve your mobility and keep the pain at bay by making an appointment at St Michael's Neurology and Pain Medicine. Call or book online today.