What Is Arthritis?

What Is Arthritis

Many people have heard of arthritis, but few know what it actually is. The term “arthritis” generally refers to pain, stiffness, and swelling within the joints. However, there are more than 100 different kinds of arthritis, and each type produces its own set of symptoms and requires its own approach to treatment. Some of the most common types of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis, which is characterized by the gradual wearing down of cartilage
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that develops when someone’s immune system begins attacking his or her bodily tissue
  • Psoriatic arthritis, which can occur in individuals with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition

Compared to other conditions, arthritis is incredibly common. In fact, studies suggest that one in five adults is living with some type of arthritis.

Arthritis Symptoms

As was mentioned above, different types of arthritis produce different symptoms, so someone with osteoarthritis might have very different complaints than someone with rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, because the symptoms of arthritis tend to worsen as the condition progresses, someone who recently developed arthritis may not have the same experience as someone who has been living with the condition for a longer period of time. With that being said, if you have arthritis, you may notice the following symptoms in the affected joint:

  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Redness
  • Warmth

Many individuals who are living with arthritis have reported that their symptoms tend to be worse in the morning. Psoriatic arthritis may also lead to conjunctivitis (pink eye), nail pitting, and pain in the lower back and feet.

Arthritis Treatment

While arthritis treatment will vary from patient to patient, doctors generally do not recommend joint repair or replacement surgery unless it’s absolutely necessary. Before resorting to surgery, doctors may recommend conservative treatments such as:

  • Medication to treat pain and inflammation
  • Corticosteroid injections
  • Heat/cold therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Gentle exercise
  • Periodic rest

Arthritis Risk Factors

There are a number of risk factors that can make someone more likely to develop arthritis. These include:

  • Being older
  • Being a woman
  • Having a family history of arthritis
  • Being obese
  • Having previously injured a joint

It’s important to keep in mind that having any of these risk factors does not mean you’ll definitely develop arthritis. The opposite is also true—it’s possible to develop arthritis without having any of these risk factors.

Skilled Arthritis Treatment in Durham, NC & Surrounding Areas

If you suspect that you have arthritis, you can turn to the specialists at North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic for treatment. Since our founding in 2003, we’ve become one of the premier orthopedic providers serving the Durham, North Carolina, area. We take pride in offering our patients a unique combination of specialized care and personalized service, and we’ll use that same approach to treat your arthritis. 

Contact North Carolina Orthopaedic Clinic today to schedule a consultation with one of the orthopedic specialists on our team. Our office is open on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we’d be happy to arrange an appointment at a date and time that fits into your schedule.