Arthritis pain and stiffness can range in severity from mild and annoying to unrelenting and disabling. For over two in five people with doctor-diagnosed arthritis, joint pain and stiffness limit both their mobility and daily activities.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Even though arthritis can’t be reversed or cured, you can slow its progression and keep it in check with the right approach.
As a board-certified pain management expert who specializes in treating arthritis, Dr. Okezie N. Okezie offers a full scope of lifestyle control strategies and pain relief procedures for Houston-area patients with arthritis at Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates in Humble and Baytown, Texas.
Here, Dr. Okezie discusses common forms of arthritis, and explains how the right treatment approach can help you ease arthritis pain, improve joint function, and preserve mobility.
Arthritis is an umbrella medical term that covers more than 100 distinct conditions that cause inflammation, pain, and stiffness within one or more joints and their supporting tissues. In the United States, about 24% of adults — or almost 59 million people — have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis.
The most common forms of arthritis are:
OA — otherwise known as “wear-and-tear” arthritis or degenerative joint disease — is the most common form of arthritis. OA causes the progressive breakdown of the smooth cartilage tissue that cushions the ends of your bones within a joint, resulting in ongoing inflammation and pain, irregular joint motion and stiffness, and the development of bone spurs.
Initially, OA may simply make the affected joint feel stiff and achy. As cartilage loss advances, however, it can lead to a substantial amount of discomfort that limits joint mobility and makes everyday tasks harder to perform. You may experience a grinding sensation when you move the joint, or hear popping or crunching sounds as the bones within your joint rub against each other.
RA, the second most common type of arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that occurs when your immune system erroneously attacks and destroys your synovial tissues, or the thin, lubricating membrane within each joint which helps facilitate easy, fluid movement.
As RA attacks this lining and causes it to swell, the affected joint usually feels stiff and painful. RA is a chronic and progressive disease that usually attacks many joints throughout the body. It’s also a symmetrical disease, meaning that if it affects one knee, hip, wrist, or shoulder joint, it’s likely to affect the other knee, hip, wrist, or shoulder joint, as well.
Gout is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis that occurs when an abnormal buildup of uric acid in your body causes the formation of sharp uric acid crystals in your joints. This chronic condition typically affects one joint at a time — often the big toe joint — causing intense pain and swelling along with redness and heat.
Gout is characterized by periods of symptom worsening, called flares, which are followed by periods of no symptoms at all, or remission. Repeated gout flares can eventually give rise to a worsening form of arthritis called gouty arthritis.
Arthritis is a chronic, long-term condition that can’t be cured or reversed. Even so, there’s a lot you can do to slow disease progression, alleviate your symptoms, and preserve joint function. Depending on the specific type of arthritis you have, Dr. Okezie may recommend that you:
If you have an inflammatory form of arthritis like RA or gout, it’s also important to take your arthritis medications as prescribed.
If disease progression or symptom flare-ups make it challenging to maintain pain-free, mobile joints with your normal daily care and lifestyle strategies, we can help.
Dr. Okezie may recommend easing inflammation, pain, and stiffness with a corticosteroid injection, which delivers an anti-inflammatory anesthetic medication directly into the affected joint to provide effective, long-lasting relief.
In some cases, Dr. Okezie may recommend a nerve block treatment, which involves injecting an anesthetic medication into the area surrounding your joint. Nerve blocks interrupt the pain signal pathway from your joint to your brain to deliver effective, long-lasting relief.
If you need help with your arthritis management plan, our team at Interventional Sports and Pain Management Associates can help. Call your nearest office in Humble or Baytown, Texas today, or click online to schedule a visit with Dr. Okezie any time.