The average person associates arthritis with getting older. While there may be a certain degree of truth behind this, as we will discuss when we talk about risk factors, it isn’t entirely accurate. There are not only different causes behind arthritis, there are also different forms of the condition. Knowing more about this topic will help you understand when it is time to schedule your appointment here at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. for treatment.
Types of Arthritic Conditions
The term “arthritis” is used to describe any condition that results in stiff or painful joints. There are actually several different conditions that fall under this general umbrella, including:
- Osteoarthritis – Generally thought of as “wear and tear,” this is the variation most commonly associated with arthritis. This condition develops as cartilage at the ends of bones break down.
- Rheumatoid arthritis – This arthritic condition is actually an autoimmune disorder where the body’s immune system begins attacking the lining of the tough membrane (synovial membrane) that encloses joint components.
- Gout – Unlike the other forms of this condition, this arthritis is related to diet. When the body metabolizes certain foods (known as “purines”), the byproduct is uric acid. If this is not properly flushed out of the system, or if increased levels are produced, the uric acid can crystalize in joints, especially the metatarsophalangeal one of the big toe.
- Post-traumatic arthritis – This is actually a form of osteoarthritis, but happens as the result of injury or physical trauma. Common examples include auto accidents, sports injuries, or falls. These events may cause damage to the bone and/or cartilage in a joint, which then affects its biomechanics and causes it to wear down more quickly than it otherwise would.
Signs and Symptoms of Arthritis
The most common symptom of arthritis is joint pain and stiffness. Depending on the specific arthritic condition, there may also be redness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. In the case of gout, symptoms typically come in the form of “attacks” that happen periodically. It is possible to experience an attack and then not have another until months later.
Risk Factors for Arthritic Conditions
Family history is one of the prevailing risk factors for arthritis. Genetic inheritance can make an individual more susceptible to those environmental factors that can trigger arthritis. If parents or siblings have an arthritic condition, it is more likely that you will develop one as well. Other such factors include age, sex, obesity, and injury history. With regard to sex, it is interesting to note that men are more likely to develop gout, but women are at greater risk for rheumatoid arthritis.
Arthritis cannot necessarily be reversed, so treatment is centered on managing symptoms and improving joint functionality. In many cases, a combination of various treatments will work best. These can include:
- Medication – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics (treat pain, but not inflammation), and corticosteroids are some of the common medications used in treatment.
- Therapy – Physical therapy provides benefit by strengthening the muscles around joints and improving range of motion.
- Surgery – In some cases, surgical procedures present the best course of action. When this is the case, joint fusion and joint replacement are the common procedures used.
Top Care for Arthritis Issues in Medford, OR
No matter which form of arthritis—osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout—you are experiencing in your feet or ankles, Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C., is here to help. Come visit our Medford, OR office to receive an accurate diagnosis and the effective treatment you need. Call us today at (541) 776-3338 or use our online form to schedule your appointment.