Living with Arthritis
Most of us have heard grandparents or older friends complain that their joints are flaring. Some even claim that they can predict the weather by how their body feels! We tend to think of arthritis – literally “pain in a joint” – as something that happens as you age. While it is more common in people over 50, some forms can strike from infancy through old age. That stiffness you feel in the morning, or that ankle or toe that feels warm and is a little swollen, may mean that you should be evaluated. Catching the problem early greatly increases your chance of effective treatment, which will allow you to live your life with less interruption.
Different Types of Arthritis
The most common type is osteoarthritis, a disease that involves degeneration of the joint. It happens when the cartilage – the smooth tissue covering the joints that allows them to move easily – breaks down. This often happens naturally as we age, but obesity, which puts extra stress on joints, can accelerate the problem. In recent years, it has been discovered that the disease may also have a biological component, since not everyone develops it as they age. With this condition, you may notice throbbing pain at night that gets worse over time, and your muscles can become weaker and deteriorate.
Another type is rheumatoid arthritis. The exact cause of this autoimmune disease is unclear, although some believe that genes in your body make you more susceptible to triggers that set off the immune reaction. In this case, it is your own immune system that attacks and destroys the cartilage in your joints. Because the foot and ankle have so many bones and joints, the problem often manifests there, although any joint in your body can be affected. This can become a severely debilitating disease over time, resulting in deformed feet and ankles and limited mobility. Other forms of the disease can result from an injury to a joint, an infection, or from a disease such as lupus or psoriasis.
Help for Sore Joints
It is a good idea to set up a consultation with The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic if you suspect you may be developing arthritis. Tests such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs or analysis of blood, urine, or joint fluids can help diagnose the exact type of arthritis. Treatments for the disease usually focus on reducing pain and maintaining mobility in the joints. They include pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, creams with menthol or capsaicin that interfere with pain signals, drugs that suppress your immune system, therapy, and surgery. With such a wide range of treatment options, you need to consult an expert who knows which ones will work best for your situation. Dr. Howard Schaengold and staff can help you reduce your pain and maintain your normal activities as much as possible. Call our office in Sammamish, WA, at (425) 868-3338 today. You can also request an appointment online. We’re proud to serve our neighbors in Issaquah, Redmond and Bellevue.