Arthritis: Your Treatment Depends on Your Type

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Although arthritis is America’s leading cause of disability and over 20 percent of Americans suffer from some form of arthritis, the different types of arthritis aren’t widely known.
Dr. Marcos Estrada, Rheumatologist at St. Elizabeth Physicians described the three categories of arthritis:

  1. Degenerative – more commonly known as osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis. In fact, if you live to be age 80, you most likely will get this arthritis.
  2. Inflammatory – is a grouping of types of arthritis involving the immune system including rheumatoid, psoriatic, lupus, and gout.
  3. Infectious – caused by a bacteria, virus or fungus. It can affect the joint directly such as in septic arthritis or indirectly such as reactive arthritis or rheumatic fever.

“No matter what category of arthritis you have the symptoms are similar. Patients complain of pain in the joints, redness, warmth and swelling at the joint,” says Dr. Estrada. He also points out although the symptoms may be similar, the causes and treatment is different for each category.

Treatment Options for Arthritis

Infectious arthritis is the least common form, and it happens when an infection in another part of your body triggers an inflammatory response in one of your joints, or possibly more than one joint. To treat infectious arthritis caused by a bacteria like staph, you have to treat the source of the infection with antibiotics. If it is caused by a fungal infection, it can require months of treatment and potentially surgery to remove infected tissue.

Inflammatory arthritis is caused by an autoimmune disease, meaning your natural immune system has turned against your body. Treatment for the different types of inflammatory arthritis (rheumatoid, psoriatic, lupus, and gout) are tailored to the disease. Different medications are available and new drugs are being developed to treat the symptoms and stop the progression of inflammatory arthritis.

Degenerative arthritis, often called osteoarthritis, is caused by wear and tear as well as age. It is the most common joint disease and can happen in any joint in your body. Treatment for this type of arthritis includes losing weight, low-impact physical activity, medications, injections, and joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Estrada says, “It is important that you recognize the symptoms early and see a doctor. 30 years ago you may have thought of having arthritis and think about a crippling disease that could leave you wheelchair-bound. Today, there are effective medications and if you catch it early enough, you can stop it from progressing.”

If you have arthritis, talk to your primary care physician. If you need help finding a primary care physician, visit St. Elizabeth Physicians, or call (800) 737-7900.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare and St. Elizabeth Physicians are excited to be a sponsor of the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk to Cure Arthritis, Sunday, May 20, 2018, at Sawyer Point in Cincinnati. Join us in the fight against arthritis.