Over 50 million Americans have arthritis, making it the No. 1 cause of disability in the U.S., according to the Arthritis Foundation and occurs when joints become inflamed or cause pain or stiffness. Memorial Hermann works with individuals who have been affected by arthritis, to help them maximize their functional potential for improved quality of life.

Types of Arthritis

Arthritis in handThe word “arthritis,” which means joint inflammation, is a term used to describe rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints as well as surrounding and connective tissue. According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different forms or arthritis and related diseases, among the more common:

  • Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form of arthritis, occurs when cartilage inside the joint – the cushiony material on the end of bones – breaks down, making affected joints – typically knees, hips, lower back, neck, fingers and feet – stiff, painful and difficult to move. Swelling may be present. OA is typically the result of wear and tear over the years but can also be caused by a joint injury or infection.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) occurs when an individual’s immune system attacks his or her own tissue and joints (and organs). Over time, the persistent inflammation breaks down the joint and damages it permanently. Primary symptoms of RA include joint pain, swelling and stiffness, fatigue and muscle pain. The cause of RA is unknown.
  • Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a disease in which the immune system attacks the body, causing inflammation and pain. PsA affects joints, causing arthritis. It causes enthesitis (inflammation of the entheses, the sites where tendons or ligaments insert into the bone). And PsA causes psoriasis (a condition in which skin cells build up and form scales and itchy, dry patches). PsA symptoms include joint pain and stiffness, skin rashes, nail changes, fatigue, eye problems and swelling/tenderness in fingers and feet. The cause of PsA is unknown.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Depending on the type of arthritis you are diagnosed with, symptoms may be presented in different forms. Some of the most common symptoms of arthritis are:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Joint pain
  • Inability to move
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Tenderness
  • Changes in skin appearance

While symptoms may come and go, people of all ages, sexes, and races can have arthritis. Arthritis symptoms may stay the same for several years, then begin to worsen over time.

How to Prevent Arthritis

There is no sure way to prevent arthritis, but there are ways to help reduce your risk and delay the potential onset pain and stiffness that comes along with arthritis.

One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk or altogether prevent arthritis is to maintain a healthy weight. Preventing obesity reduces pressure on the joints, which ultimately aids in reducing inflammation and pressure.

Additionally, the Arthritis Foundation has found that by not smoking, your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis is decreased.

If you have healthy joints right now, maintaining an exercise regimen and caring for injuries may help delay or prevent arthritis symptoms.

How is Arthritis Diagnosed?

A physician will typically begin with a medical history and physical exam, and might also order diagnostic tests, such as a blood test, a test of fluid from the affected joint, an X-ray or an MRI.

Areas of the body that are commonly affected by arthritis are:

Treatment Options for Arthritis

Memorial Hermann offers a variety of non-surgical and surgical treatment options for those suffering from arthritis. While arthritis cannot be cured, these treatments can help improve an individual’s range of motion and strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints.

Arthritis treatment options may include:

Get Treatment for Arthritis Pain

Ready to find relief from arthritis pain? Contact us today for more information on available treatment options.


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