Although many people think of arthritis as a condition that affects only older people, the truth is there are different types of arthritis and they can strike at nearly every age. In fact, 60% of Americans under age 64 struggle with one form or another of this common disease.
The good news is that John Huffman, MD, and the pain specialists at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, specialize in diagnosing and treating the many types of arthritis. Here’s a look at four common types of this degenerative disease and the treatments available to help.
1. Degenerative arthritis
Degenerative arthritis, also called “wear-and-tear” arthritis, develops over time as you use your joints. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, falls into this category and in addition to affecting older adults, it’s the leading disability in working-age Americans.
Symptoms of degenerative arthritis include:
- Pain in the affected joints
- Stiffness, especially after waking or periods of inactivity
- Loss of flexibility or range of motion
- Popping or cracking when moving the joint
- A grating sensation when moving the joint
- Swelling and inflammation
Because degenerative arthritis is caused by stress on the joints, maintaining healthy body weight and a regular exercise regime can help slow the progress of this disease.
2. Inflammatory arthritis
Sometimes your immune system overreacts and attacks your own cells as if they were foreign invaders. When your immune system attacks your joints, you can develop inflammation and joint erosion, causing a condition called inflammatory arthritis (IA).
The most common forms of this chronic autoimmune disorder include lupus, psoriatic arthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Signs of the disease include:
- Joint pain and stiffness, especially after periods of rest or inactivity and first thing in the morning
- Swelling, redness, or a feeling of heat or warmth in the affected joints
- Inflammation of other areas in the body
People with IA often report their symptoms to go through cycles of intensity followed by asymptomatic periods. Early detection can help stop the effects of inflammatory arthritis from progressing, so if you suspect IA, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffman as soon as possible.
3. Metabolic arthritis
This type of arthritis results when the metabolic processes in your body create a build-up of uric acid crystals in your joints, especially the joint at the base of your big toe. Your body produces uric acid to break down purines, which are found in the foods you eat.
When you consume too many purines, your body increases the amount of uric acid. The acid builds up and forms crystals that collect and cause metabolic arthritis or gout. Gout flare-ups are painful and can impact your ability to walk and carry out daily activities.
If you have gout, it’s important to eat a healthy, low-purine diet. High-purine foods increase the amount of uric acid in your body and trigger painful symptoms. Fructose- and sugar-sweetened drinks also increase uric acid levels although they don’t contain purines.
Talk to Dr. Huffman and the team at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists for more information about the best foods for metabolic arthritis.
4. Infectious arthritis
Certain viral, fungal, and bacterial infections can cause arthritis when they infect your joints. Infectious, or septic, arthritis is most often caused by a bacterium called Staphylococcus aureus, or staph. Staph infections can cause intense pain, swelling, fever, and usually come on quickly.
Antibiotics may be useful in treating infectious arthritis caused by bacterial infections, and in some cases, your provider may drain the excess fluid in the affected joints to remove infected fluids and alleviate your symptoms.
It’s important to seek medical attention right away if you suspect infectious arthritis as when left untreated it can lead to permanent joint damage.
What to do about arthritis
The best treatment for your arthritis depends on the type of arthritis you have and the nature of your symptoms. After a complete evaluation, Dr. Huffman creates a personalized arthritis treatment plan for your unique needs.
Your arthritis treatment typically includes a combination of lifestyle changes and interventional therapies, such as:
- Regenerative medicine therapies
- Weight loss
- Dietary changes
- Regular exercise
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Pain medications
- Physical therapy
Depending on your unique needs, Dr. Huffman may suggest joint replacement surgery to treat your arthritis. Surgery is generally recommended only when more conservative options aren’t successful and your arthritis is severe.
Learn more about arthritis by contacting Dr. Huffman and the team at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Northern Virginia. You can reach us at 571-210-1813, book an appointment online, or schedule a convenient virtual visit now.