Arthritis is a common disorder that affects your joints and causes them to become swollen and tender. It can cause pain and inflammation in the joint area, making it difficult to move or stay active. There are multiple types of arthritis and they vary in symptoms.

Most common areas arthritis affects the body:

  • Feet
  • Hands
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Lower back

Most Common Types of Arthritis

The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is when the joint cartilage begins to break down. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that makes the body’s immune system attack the joints, usually starting with the joint’s lining.

Additional types can include the following:

  • Osteoarthritis: develops when the joint cartilage breaks down from repeated stress over time
  • Ankylosing spondylitis: develops in your spine, particularly the lower back
  • Juvenile arthritis: when the immune system attacks the tissue around the joints. Typically found with children 16 or younger.
  • Gout: causes hard crystals of uric acid to form in your joints, commonly found in the big toe joint
  • Psoriatic arthritis: joint inflammation that develops in people with psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis: causes the immune system to attack the synovial membrane in your joints

Symptoms of Arthritis

Each type of arthritis has different symptoms, and they can range from mild to severe for each person. Most symptoms involve joint discomfort that can come and go with each person.

Other common symptoms can include the following:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Warmth

Diagnosing for Arthritis

If you and your health care provider believe you have arthritis, they will most likely conduct a physical exam to identify the following:

  • Mobility and range of motion in your joints
  • Tenderness or swelling around the joint area
  • Overall health to determine if the condition is causing you additional symptoms

Imaging exams can also help your doctor determine how severe arthritis has damaged your joints, bones and soft tissues.

Your doctor may request the following:

These tests can check for bone fractures, dislocations, cartilage breakdowns, muscle or ligament injuries and soft tissue inflammation.

Your doctor may ask for blood tests to be done. Despite there not being a blood test to directly detect arthritis, it can help your doctor rule out other conditions like gout or rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatments for Arthritis

There’s no cure for arthritis at the moment; however, there are treatment options to help you manage the symptoms easier. Depending on the severity of your condition, the symptoms and your overall health, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following treatments.


Your doctor may recommend a medication for your arthritis depending on the type and severity

They may recommend the following:

  • NSAIDs: ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) and naproxen sodium (Aleve)/li>
  • Counterirritants: variations of topical creams or ointments to reduce aches and pains
  • Steroids: corticosteroids can help reduce inflammation, pain and slow joint damage
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs): used to slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis

Physical Therapy

Rehabilitation can help improve the range of motion, mobility and strength. Both physical and occupational therapists can help you adjust your daily activities to alleviate yourself from arthritic pain.

Therapeutic Injections

Your doctor may recommend cortisone shots to help relieve pain and inflammation temporarily. For joint pain in areas like the knee, they might recommend a viscosupplementation that injects lubricant into the joint for improved mobility.

Surgical Options

Your doctor may recommend a surgical procedure if other treatments aren’t enough.

They can include the following:

  • Joint repair: joint surfaces can be smoothed or realigned to reduce and improve function.
  • Joint replacement: remove the damaged joint and replace it with an artificial one. The hips and knees are the most common joints to replace
  • Joint fusion: removal of the ends of two bones in the joint to lock them together until they heal into one. This is usually used for smaller joints such as the wrist, ankle and fingers.

If you have pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints, you may be one of the nearly 50 million Americans suffering from some form of arthritis. At INTEGRIS Health, we are here to help you live a more active life and mobile life, free from the pain and potentially debilitating symptoms of arthritis.

From expert diagnostics, cutting-edge medications and minimally invasive surgery to award-winning rehabilitation programs and the latest joint replacement procedures, the arthritis specialists at INTEGRIS Health have the advanced training and expertise you need to get you back on your feet and doing the things you love most.

Amy Dedeke

Amy Dedeke, M.D., is a reheumatologist at INTEGRIS Family Care Central. She also sees patients at INTEGRIS Family Care Memorial West.

Understanding Arthritis

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