SO, it is actually a general term and includes any condition affecting the joints with symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness.
Degenerative arthritis (osteoarthritis) is the most commonly understood type of arthritis. It is caused by wear and tear of the cartilage (which cushions the joints). Once cartilage is reduced it does not always heal itself. As your body attempts to heal, fluid accumulates with inflammatory markers inside and as a result pain develops.
Risk factors for developing osteoarthritis include aging, increased body weight and previous injury. Management includes weight loss, exercise to strengthen the muscles around the joints, pain relief, anti-inflammatory medications and hot/cold therapies.
You will often hear us asking OA patients to “warm-up” the joint, be it actively, with a hot pack or Dencorub. Following activity (be it exercise or daily living) ice ice ice! Ice will reduce the inflammation and pain.
Inflammatory arthritis is very different. Common types include rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. They are caused by inappropriate immune system responses. Usually inflammation is produced to protect the body against infection or disease, however in these conditions the immune system produces inflammation within joints. Over time the presence of inflammation can cause erosion of the joint surfaces resulting in further pain and disability. Management is similar to that of osteoarthritis, however sometimes particular medications are required to dampen the immune system response.
Joint infection or gout (a build-up of uric acid) may also cause joint pain. These conditions are treated very differently to degenerative and inflammatory arthritis. It is important to obtain the correct diagnosis for your joint pain so symptoms are managed appropriately.
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