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What is arthritis, and what can you do about it?

Arthritis is the process of joint damage that can lead to swelling, pain, crunching, grinding, and stiffness.  Another name for this process is Degenerative Joint Disease.  The term “arthritis” includes problems with all the structures in the joint including damage to the cartilage, swelling of the synovium, tears of the meniscus or labrum, and excessive fluid production. 

Are there different kinds of arthitis?

Yes, there are many types of arthritis. Some of these include osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, post-traumatic arthritis, septic arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. But no matter what the cause, arthritis leads to inflammation with pain and stiffness.

And despite many different causes, the symptoms and treatment are often the same. Pain, swelling, and stiffness are the primary symptoms of arthritis. Any joint in the body may be affected by the disease, but it is particularly common in the knee, hip, shoulder, hands, and feet.

What are the signs of arthritis?

The most common symptoms of arthritis are:

  • pain
  • swelling
  • stiffness
  • difficulty moving a joint
  • crunching of grinding with movement
  • angulation, like bowing of the knees

Do I need X-rays or an MRI for arthritis?

Yes, a full evaluation should include X-rays for arthritis.  Advanced studies like an MRI or CT scan may be needed sometimes.  But usually, X-ray is the best way to diagnose arthritis.  So even if you already had an MRI, we may still need X-rays at our office.  And we often require specialized views or angles, so we may need to get additional X-rays during your visit to offer the best care possible.

We do have full X-ray services at the Bone and Joint Specialist office at 152 Linden Drive.  So getting X-rays before your appointment is not necessary.

Common signs of arthritis on X-rays and MRIs include loss of joint space, growth of bone spurs (aka osteophytes), and even wearing away of the bone.  

An MRI will often show the process of arthritis in greater detail.  Common findings include damage to the cartilage, meniscus, and labrum.  There may be cysts in the bone or soft tissue, bone edema, or osteophytes.  Don’t worry though, despite the seemingly long list of things wrong, these issues all occur as part of the process of arthritis.

How can arthritis be treated?

The most important thing to us is that we treat YOU and not just your X-Rays.  So we make sure to help you choose the treatment options that best fit your needs.  We take into account your goals, pain, function, and lifestyle to help select the right care for you.

Treatment options for arthritis include:

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