Just like the term “shoe” is an all-encompassing description of hundreds of types of footwear ranging from tennis to pumps, flats to sandals, cleats to horse, so is the term “arthritis.” Arthritis is the general term that describes varying diseases that cause inflammation and pain – sometimes to the point of debilitation.
There are more than 100 forms of arthritis and related diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 percent of those who have arthritis say it causes severe pain as defined as seven or higher on a zero- to 10-point pain scale.
The four most common types of arthritis are: osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), and gout. They all cause pain in differing ways, from mild to severe to everywhere in between, and sometimes enough of it to affect daily well-being and happiness.
This is the type of arthritis that occurs when your joints are overused. It usually happens with age due to the “wear and tear” of life, but it can also come from an injury or from being overweight.
With osteoarthritis, or OA, the material that covers and protects the ends of your bones gradually breaks down. This is called cartilage. As it disintegrates, it loses its protective value and shock absorbency, leaving the bones bare. This makes bending of the joints painful because the bones are rubbing against each other.
Knees, hips, and feet are the most common places osteoarthritis affects, and it usually comes on gradually.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune disease. The immune system is designed to protect a person from viruses and bacteria, but with an autoimmune disease the opposite happens. The immune system actually attacks itself, and in the case of RA, attacks healthy cells and tissue in the joints. It causes inflammation, stiffness, swelling and pain in your hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, and feet.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects multiple joints and is symmetrical; if knuckles on one hard are inflamed and painful, the knuckles on the other hand will probably be, as well. Symptoms can be sudden or can develop gradually, and they are usually more severe than with osteoarthritis.
People who have Psoriatic Arthritis, or PsA, have arthritis two-fold: inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and inflammation of the joints (arthritis).
Psoriasis is when areas of the skin, usually elbows, knees, the scalp, the belly button and genital area get inflamed, presenting itself with crusty and scaly red and white patches. The skin part of the disease usually starts before the arthritis of the joints set in and can occur as early as childhood.
Gout is a buildup of uric acid crystals in a joint. It is a form of inflammatory arthritis, but it is centralized, usually to a big toe. It happens when too much uric acid builds up in the body, and the excess isn’t removed fast enough. It can build up in the blood and create uric acid crystals in your joints. This results in extremely painful joint inflammation.
Gout comes in the form of an “attack” or “flare” – severe joint pain and swelling that can last anywhere from three to ten days. You can go to bed feeling just fine, and wake up in pain the next morning. It comes on that quickly!
Being In Pain Hurts
Arthritis pain isn’t something you have to “just deal with.” It is manageable. And it doesn’t have to prevent you from living a full, active life. Arthritis pain may not always be curable, but you and your OSMS doctor can work together to create a comprehensive pain management plan that will bring you relief and get you back to the things you love.
Don’t let the symptoms (joint pain, stiffness, swelling, difficulty moving the joint through its normal range of motion, redness and warmth) persist. The Arthritis Foundation suggests you see your doctor:
• When joint symptoms last three days or more
• When several episodes of joint symptoms happen within one month
If you have any of the scenarios discussed above, request an appointment or call 920-430-8113. We’ll help you get back to the life you love.