Arthritis is a condition that can affect any joint in the body. There are many types of arthritis, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a musculoskeletal condition that causes wearing down of the cartilage.. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that targets the synovium (the lining of the joints). Other types of arthritis are caused by infections, other autoimmune diseases (like lupus or psoriasis), crystals forming in joints (gout) and more. The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and sometimes a decreased range of motion.
Diagnosis and treatment of arthritis
If you have signs or symptoms of arthritis, you should see your doctor. There are a number of approaches to treating arthritis, but they tend to follow a predictable path that includes an arthritis diagnosis based on symptoms, tests to determine or confirm the type of arthritis, and developing a treatment plan.
Making a diagnosis
In order to make a diagnosis of arthritis, your doctor will do a physical exam that involves checking your joints for swelling, redness or warmth. He or she will also ask you to move your affected joints to evaluate your range of motion and to find out whether those movements cause pain. Your doctor may also order tests to diagnose the specific type of arthritis.
Testing for arthritis
Some tests to diagnose arthritis include:
- Laboratory tests
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- Joint fluid tests
- Imaging tests
Developing an arthritis treatment plan
Arthritis treatment typically focuses on a combination of relieving symptoms and improving joint function and mobility. Finding the right treatment may not happen on the first try. What works for one person may not work for another. But arthritis specialists at Beaumont have the experience and expertise to successfully treat your condition. Depending on which type of arthritis you have, you may work with orthopedic specialists or rheumatologists. Those doctors may also involve other specialists in your care. But regardless who you see, you can count on the team at Beaumont to be with you throughout your treatment.
Your course of treatment may include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, like ibuprofen) to both relieve pain and reduce inflammation
- Pain relievers (like acetaminophen)
- Creams and ointments that can relieve pain
- Corticosteroids, such as prednisone and cortisone, either taken by mouth or injected into a joint, to decrease inflammation and reduce pain
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologics used by rheumatologists to fight autoimmune arthritis
- Physical therapy to help improve range of motion and strengthen muscles surrounding the affected joint(s)
- Occupational therapy to teach ways you can protect joints and modify activities to reduce pain and improve function
- Lifestyle changes and self-care
- Losing weight can help reduce stress on weight bearing joints, which may increase mobility and limit joint injury in the future
- Heat and ice therapy can help relieve pain
- Exercise can help keep joints flexible
- Assistive devices, like walkers and canes, to help with mobility; reachers, raised toilet seats, and other equipment can be helpful
- Alternative medicine options
Orthopedic surgeons at Beaumont successfully treat arthritis
Arthritis is a progressive condition that is unlikely to improve without treatment and will probably get worse. However, some people find relief from arthritis through orthopedic joint surgery and other treatments. Surgeons at Beaumont have successfully treated arthritis with surgery, providing pain relief and functionality restoration. We have orthopedic programs at seven hospitals throughout Metro Detroit with orthopedic specialists who can help you. Call today to make an appointment so you can talk to a doctor about your symptoms and how they can treat your arthritis and improve your quality of life.
Does it matter what kind of arthritis I have?
Most people with arthritis are diagnosed with osteoarthritis. However, sometimes joint pain is found to be from one of the many other types of arthritis. These often are caused by your immune system “attacking” your joints. Because joint pain is such a common complaint among patients, it is quite common for a person to be diagnosed by any of the doctors who might see patients with joint pain.
If your orthopedic specialist (or primary care doctor) suspects that you might have an autoimmune kind of arthritis, he or she might refer you to a rheumatologist. Rheumatologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and managing these kinds of conditions with special medications. Often, a rheumatologist might refer a patient to see an orthopedic surgeon to see if there are surgical options that might be helpful.
Contact our physician service specialists
At Beaumont, we continue to pursue new and innovative services, offering a full range of advanced treatments for patients of all ages with all types of joint pain. Whether you need assistance from our orthopedic specialists or rheumatologists, we are committed to partnering with you to determine the best possible solution for your situation.
Call us at 800-633-7377 to make an appointment, or request an appointment online.