- FAQs about Arthritis
How is arthritis diagnosed?
Making a diagnosis of arthritis often includes evaluating symptoms, a physical exam and X-rays. Blood tests and other lab tests may help to determine the type of arthritis.
How is arthritis treated?
The goals of treatment are to provide relief, improve strength and increase the motion. There are several treatments your physician may prescribe:
Many over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen (common anti-inflammatory drugs) may be used to effectively control pain and inflammation in arthritis. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used to effectively control pain. Prescription medications are also available if over-the-counter medications are not effective. The physician chooses a medication by taking into account the type of arthritis, its severity, and the patient's general physical health. Patients with ulcers, asthma, kidney or liver disease may not be able to safely take anti-inflammatory medications. Injections of liquid cortisone directly into the joint may temporarily help to relieve pain and swelling.
Canes, crutches walkers or splints can assist in relieving the stress or strain on arthritic joints. Certain exercises and physical therapy (such as heat treatments) may be used to decrease stiffness and to strengthen the muscles around the joint.
This is also very helpful in treating the stiffness of arthritis.
In general, an orthopaedist will perform surgery for arthritis when other methods of non-surgical treatment have failed to give relief. The physician and patient will choose the type of surgery by taking into account the type of arthritis, its severity, and the patient's physical condition. Arthroscopy procedures are sometimes used to help diagnose arthritis in the knee and shoulder joints.
Is there a cure for arthritis?
In most cases, persons with arthritis can continue to perform normal activities of daily living. Exercise programs, anti-inflammatory drugs and weight reduction for obese persons are common measures to reduce pain, stiffness and improve function. In persons with severe cases of arthritis, orthopaedic surgery can often provide dramatic relief and restore lost joint function. A total joint replacement, for example, can usually enable a person with severe arthritis in the hip or knee to walk without pain or stiffness. Some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are often treated by a team of healthcare professionals. These professionals may include rheumatologists, physical and occupational therapists, rehabilitation specialists and orthopedic surgeons.
It can be a complicated process to define arthritis symptoms, causes and the correct treatments for each patient. Schedule an appointment at Baptist Health to receive the best possible consultation and care for your arthritis.