Summer Fun in RecoveryArthritis is a pressing health issue that affects millions of people worldwide. This condition involves painful joint inflammation and stiffness, and it is more prevalent among individuals aged 65 and above. This can be largely attributed to the natural degeneration of joints as we are getting older.

However, it's not exclusive to this age group; arthritis can occur in younger individuals due to factors such as genetics, previous injuries, or an autoimmune disease. Being well-informed about this condition can foster early detection and intervention, improving patient outcomes and promoting better management of symptoms.

At Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates we want our patients to have the right information about arthritis, understand the risks of developing it, and detect these risks as early as possible.

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a term used to describe more than 100 different conditions. It causes inflammation and pain in the joints, which can lead to limited mobility and discomfort.

This condition involves the progressive wear and tear of the cartilage, the smooth, cushion-like tissue that prevents friction between the bones in a joint. When this cartilage erodes, bones rub against each other, leading to pain, swelling, and joint stiffness.

Arthritis can manifest in two main forms: osteoarthritis, the most common form often associated with age, and rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder wherein your body's immune system attacks your own tissues, including small joints, causing chronic inflammation.

While arthritis is commonly attributed to a combination of factors including age, genetic and environmental factors, and gender, it can also be triggered by behavioral factors. Certain conditions like metabolic disorders can also lead to arthritis.

Arthritis Causes, Types and Symptoms

Exploring underlying factors, types and signs of arthritis will help you to better understand this chronic disease. Treating rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging, but with the right approach and medication, this condition can be managed and cured effectively.

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease wherein the body's immune system erroneously targets the lining of the joints, leading to chronic inflammation that can result in painful swelling and possible joint deformities such as rheumatoid nodules.The disease is systemic, meaning rheumatoid arthritis affects more than one joint at once, often in a symmetrical pattern.

    • Cause
      The exact cause of rheumatoid arthritis remains unknown. However, there has been an increased risk of inflammatory arthritis due to a rheumatoid factor and others.

    • Risk Factors
      Rheumatoid arthritis increases due to the following factors:

      • Age
      • Gender
      • Genetics
      • Smoking

      Detecting early rheumatoid arthritis can be challenging due to the gradual development of varying symptoms.

    • Common Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

      Signs of developing rheumatoid arthritis and symptoms include the following:

      • Swollen joints
      • Stiffness and joint pain
      • Fatigue
      • Fever
      • Loss of appetite

      When you have RA treated through a combination of medications, it will help reduce the pain caused by this disease.

      If you suspect that you developed RA, it is crucial to be vigilant about the aforementioned signs, as this condition can also contribute to the onset of lung disease. Seeking prompt medical advice and receiving an accurate diagnosis are vital steps in managing the pain associated with developing RA.

  • Osteoarthritis

    Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease, often referred to as 'wear and tear' arthritis. It is the most common type of arthritis, where the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time.

    This condition can affect any joint in your body, but it primarily affects the joints in your hands, knees, hips, and spine.

    • Causes
      Osteoarthritis has various causes and these are the following:

      • Excessive strain caused by repetitive joint movements.
      • Incorrect formation of joints.
      • Familial predisposition to osteoarthritis.
      • Previous joint injury or surgery.
    • Risk Factors
      Certain factors can increase your likelihood of developing osteoarthritis:

      • Age: The risk increases as one gets older.
      • Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than men.
      • Obesity: Carrying extra body weight contributes to osteoarthritis, especially in weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips.
      • Occupation: Jobs that involve repetitive stress on a particular joint can eventually lead to osteoarthritis.
    • Common Symptoms of Osteoarthritis
      The following are the most common symptoms associated with osteoarthritis:

      • Chronic pain and stiffness of joints, especially after periods of inactivity or overuse.
      • Decreased flexibility or range of motion in a joint.
      • Swelling around the affected joint.
      • The formation of bone spurs around the affected joint.

      Proper diagnosis and treatment can help manage these symptoms.

  • Gout

    Gout is a form of inflammatory arthritis characterized by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness, and tenderness in joints. It typically affects the joint at the base of the big toe but can occur in any joint. It's caused by a high level of uric acid in the blood vessels, which can form hard crystals in the joints.

    • Causes of Gout
      Gout is triggered by hyperuricemia, a condition where there's too much uric acid in the body. This could be due to:

      • High intake of foods rich in purines like red meat and seafood
      • Overconsumption of alcohol, especially beer
      • Obesity, which makes it harder for the body to clear uric acid
    • Risk Factors for Gout
      Gout is triggered by hyperuricemia, a condition where there's too much uric acid in the body. This could be due to:

      • Age and gender: Men produce more uric acid than women, and men are generally affected at a younger age.
      • OGenetic factors: If family members have had gout, you're more likely to develop it.
      • Health conditions: Certain chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and kidney disease can increase the risk of gout.
    • Common Symptoms of Gout
      The signs and symptoms of gout generally occur suddenly and often at night. They include:

      • Intense joint pain, which is most severe in the first 12 to 24 hours.
      • The affected joint exhibits inflammation and redness.
      • There is a restriction in the range of motion of the affected joint.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis

    Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a type of inflammatory arthritis that occurs in some patients with psoriasis, a chronic skin condition. PsA impacts the joints and areas where ligaments and tendons connect to bone, causing joint pain, stiffness, and swelling.

    • Causes

      While the exact cause of psoriatic arthritis is unknown, several factors are thought to contribute:

      • Genetics: Certain genetic markers can increase the likelihood of developing the disease.
      • Environment: Certain infections or injuries can trigger psoriatic arthritis in individuals with a genetic predisposition.
      • Immune System: Psoriatic arthritis is an autoimmune condition, implying the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues.
    • Risk Factors

      Several factors can increase the risk of developing psoriatic arthritis:

      • Psoriasis: Individuals with psoriasis are at a higher risk. Particularly, people with lesions on their nails are more prone to psoriatic arthritis.
      • Family History: Those with a family history of psoriatic arthritis are more likely to develop the condition.
      • Age: Although it can occur at any age, psoriatic arthritis commonly affects people between the ages of 30 and 50.
    • Common Symptoms

      Psoriatic arthritis can affect different joints in the body. The signs and symptoms can vary but might include:

      • Swollen fingers and toes: Psoriatic arthritis can cause a painful, sausage-like swelling of your fingers and toes.
      • Foot pain: Psoriatic arthritis can also cause pain at the points where tendons and ligaments attach to your bones — especially at the back of your heel or in the sole of your foot.
      • Lower back pain: Some people develop a condition called spondylitis as a result of psoriatic arthritis, which causes inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae of your spine and in the joints between your spine and pelvis (sacroiliitis).
      • If you find that these symptoms are the same as what you have, you can directly call your nearby healthcare clinic for a diagnosis.

    What Are the Best Arthritis Treatment Options?

    If you are someone with rheumatoid arthritis diagnosed in an early stage or currently suffering from arthritis, it’s important to know that treatment is available. At Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates, we typically recommend the following treatments:

    • Medications: Prescribed drugs used for treatment.
    • Physical therapy: Therapeutic exercises and techniques to improve mobility and function.
    • Lifestyle changes: Modifications to daily habits and behaviors for better health.
    • Surgical interventions: Medical procedures performed to address specific conditions or injuries.

    Find the Best Arthritis Treatment in Pittsburgh, PA

    If you've been struggling with arthritis, don't wait. Reach out to a nearby orthopedic clinic like Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates for help!

    Don't let arthritis steal your comfort and mobility—schedule an appointment easily with the top orthopedic experts at Greater Pittsburgh Orthopaedic Associates and take the first step towards reclaiming your active life.