Arthritis is a broad term that refers to multiple different types. Arthritis is a condition of the joints that may stem from an autoimmune condition that leads to deterioration of the joints or a normal wear and tear to the joints over many years, called Osteoarthritis.
Many joints in the body have what is called a capsule, which envelops a substance referred to as synovial fluid. This synovial fluid helps in nourishing and lubricating the joint. It is a normal degradation of this fluid and other structures in the joint over time that leads to arthritis, an inflammation of the joint.
In the knee, for instance, exists a structure called the meniscus that is basically a cushion and shock absorber. Deterioration of the menisci over many years leads to a lack of cushioning in the knee joint which absorbs pounding everyday from walking and running. This deterioration is an example of arthritis. Many other joints in the body have similar shock absorbing structures within them, the degradation of which may lead to arthritis.
Joint pain itself may be the result of a number of other causes besides arthritis. You may have a torn ligament or tendon. If you recently suffered a traumatic injury leading to joint pain, the cause is most likely not a result of arthritis, but a traumatic injury will weaken structures within and surrounding a joint and possibly lead to arthritis many years later because of the decreased strength of the joint and increased impact of external forces.
Another example of arthritis is the autoimmune condition Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The main difference in symptoms of RA is that multiple joints may be affected because of this condition rather than a single joint, as is the most common presentation with Osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid symptoms will also be loss of range of motion and function of the joint and pain. As this is a systemic illness, you may experience slight fevers and a general feeling of malaise when a flare-up of RA occurs.
Untreated osteoarthritis will continue to progress and worsen over time. Arthritis cannot kill you, but it can cause serious pain and discomfort in your life. The treatment of arthritis is a quality-of-life issue, but is not life-threatening. It is not a diagnosis that will shorten your life expectancy, but if ignored and left untreated, can make the rest of your years of life miserable.
This condition cannot paralyze you, but will make normal function of the joint worsen over time. Untreated arthritis will add to the degradation of the structures in and around the joint leading to more and more pain and a loss of function. The progression of arthritis may lead to requiring a total joint replacement.
Treatment options will vary based on the progression and severity of your arthritis. These may be the recommendation to take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to oral steroids or injections, physical therapy, and in the most severe of cases surgical intervention may be required.
An accurate diagnosis is the key to choosing the correct treatment for your arthritis. This is something the experts at Dr. Burke Orthopedics excel at. They will not recommend a treatment or procedure without first being positive of the exact cause of your discomfort.
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