Arthritis, a disease of the joints, affects millions of people. Although there are many types of arthritis, the two most common are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The two are distinct in many ways, but happily, there are nonsurgical and minimally invasive treatments for both.
The highly trained experts at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates treat patients with many forms of arthritis, and the goal is always to to control your symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and allow you to continue living an active, high-quality life. In this post we discuss some of the treatments available for the two most common forms of arthritis.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause stiff, swollen, painful joints. However, the underlying causes of the two diseases are different and because of that, so are the treatments that tend to work best.
Osteoarthritis is sometimes called wear-and-tear arthritis. It happens simply because you use your joints throughout your lifetime. As you get older, the cartilage and other tissues that allow the joint to move easily begin to break down.
OA most often affects your hands, lower back, neck, knees, hips, and feet. Your risk of developing OA increases with age.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which your body’s defense system malfunctions and attacks the lining of your joints. No one is sure exactly why this happens, but the result is inflammation in your joints.
RA most often affects several joints at the same time and can also cause problems with your organs or your eyes. Most often, the hands, wrists, feet, ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows are affected.
As you might expect, the treatments for OA and RA are quite different, but they have the same goal of preserving your joints and your quality of life. Since both types cause pain, many treatments are aimed at managing that pain. For example, in both diseases, exercise is recommended because using your joint helps you maintain mobility and strengthening the structures that support your joints can help preserve them.
Along with exercise, several other nonsurgical treatments are available for both types of arthritis. Hot and cold therapies and physical therapy may be beneficial for either type of arthritis as well. Both types of arthritis may also eventually require surgical intervention.
For OA, corticosteroid injections or stem cell therapy could be treatment options, depending on your specific circumstances. Both are minimally invasive treatments. Another possibility is a joint replacement or partial joint replacement. Modern surgical techniques allow us to perform joint replacements using minimally invasive techniques.
For RA, a pharmaceutical approach to slow the progression of the disease is extremely likely. Disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, or DMARDs are often a first-line treatment. Other drugs, such as biologics, may be beneficial as well.
In some cases, surgery is the best option. Arthroscopy and synovectomy can be done using minimally invasive techniques to clean the joint and remove the inflamed lining, or synovium, of an affected joint. If your joints are severely damaged, joint replacement may be the best option.
If you have joint pain, it’s important to have an evaluation and get a correct diagnosis. Schedule your appointment at Dr. Louis Keppler & Associates today to find out what your options are if you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.