Practice Policy Update regarding COVID-19

Understanding How Arthritis May Begin

Understanding How Arthritis May Begin
Understanding How Arthritis May Begin

Understanding How Arthritis May Begin

Did you know arthritis is the #1 cause of disability in the United States? It can result in knobby finger joints and other degenerative skeletal changes. More than 50,000,000 adults and over 300,000 children suffer from some form of arthritis. Let’s look at some of the possible causes and risk factors for arthritis.

Arthritis is actually a group of diseases and not a single entity. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis. The 2 most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis usually begins after age 50 or later. It is also known as wear-and-tear arthritis and is characterized by age-related breakdown of the joint cartilage (the hard and slippery surface present at the ends of bone in a joint).

Rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an impaired immune response which causes the body’s own immune system to attack the joints beginning with the joint capsule and eventually destroying joint cartilage and bone.

Depending on the type of arthritis, signs and symptoms include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and decreased mobility.

Common Risk Factors for Arthritis:

  • Old age: For most types of arthritis including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout; your risk increases with age. By age 70, almost everyone has some form of arthritis.
  • Family history: You are more likely to develop arthritis if the condition runs in your family.
  • Sex: Women have a higher tendency towards developing rheumatoid arthritis and men tend to develop gouty arthritis more often which is characterized by the presence of uric acid crystals within the joint.
  • History of joint injury: A serious injury to the joint, perhaps while playing sports or a motor vehicular accident can predispose you to developing arthritis later in life.
  • Obesity: Carrying extra weight can significantly increase the stresses acting on the weight bearing joints of the body resulting in breakdown of the joint.

End-stage arthritis, particularly of the hands and fingers, can make it very difficult to perform routine activities of daily living. Management of arthritis focuses on reducing joint pain and improving function. An accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment by an orthopedic specialist may help delay or avoid need for invasive treatments.

Dr. Steve E. Meadows is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with advanced fellowship training in hand and upper extremity surgery. He practices general orthopedic surgery with a subspecialty interest in shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand problems. Dr. Meadows performs numerous shoulder surgeries per year, including rotator cuff repair, shoulder replacement, reverse shoulder replacement, and fracture repair. Our team of physicians provides an advanced level of care, integrating the newest cutting-edge surgical and nonsurgical techniques, with proven traditional methods of treatments. The physicians at South Palm Orthopedics are committed to providing the highest level of orthopedic care to each and every patient each and every time.