What Are My Treatment Options for Arthritis?

What Are My Treatment Options for Arthritis?

Arthritis isn’t just one disease. There are over 100 forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are two of the most common, affecting more than one in five Americans and almost 50% of Americans over age 65. 

You’ve been diagnosed with arthritis. Whether it’s affected your knees, hips, hands, or back, it’s slowing you down and may be preventing you from participating in a favorite sport or hobby. Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Shults, with Coastal Empire Orthopedics, treats many arthritis patients and helps you regain mobility to enjoy life again. 

Dr. Shults performs several tests, tells you what kind of arthritis you have, and develops a plan for treating it effectively. Following are a range of treatments for arthritis in modern medicine’s toolbox. 

Short-term and home treatments 

Ice packs can help relieve painful swelling, and moist or dry heat can help lessen pain. Massage appointments can help bring increased blood flow to your joints. Some people have invested in TENS units that deliver electrical pulses to your joints; the device can alter your pain perception by blocking pain signals. 

Lifestyle alterations 

You have a role to play in treating your arthritis. Dr. Shults may write a “prescription” to lose weight. You may be unwittingly contributing to your arthritis. 

One in five overweight adults has been diagnosed with arthritis by a physician. Being obese dramatically increases your risk. The weight on your joints weakens your cartilage, the protective covering on your joints. It thins, can tear, and wears away. We can recommend weight loss programs, but only you can follow through. 

Your diet may help or hinder your arthritis. If you drink a lot of sugary drinks and desserts, your arthritis symptoms likely flare up. Some research shows that eating less red and processed meats and more fatty fish such as salmon and tuna and lots of fruits and vegetables may lessen inflammation. 

Prescription drugs 

Prescription drugs have both beneficial and negative effects. The following are the types of drugs used for arthritis.

NSAIDs

You’ve probably already tried nonprescription drugs; they may not work for you. Prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may give you relief. However, it’s not safe to stay on these drugs for long periods because of the risk of kidney damage and other health issues.  

Steroids and hyaluronic acid

If you have severe arthritis pain when you come into the office, Dr. Shults can administer a cortisone shot. This steroid calms the inflammation and consequently reduces your pain. 

A steroid shot may help you for several months. However, if your severe pain returns, it’s not safe to continue receiving unlimited cortisone shots; in fact, you shouldn’t have more than three shots in the same joint in one year. Instead of helping your joints, too much cortisone can damage cartilage and bone. 

If a steroid shot doesn’t work or you can’t take a steroid, Dr. Shults may recommend a series of hyaluronic acid (HA) injections. HA helps lubricate your joints and can relieve for a few months and possibly up to a year

DMARDs and biologics 

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, Dr. Shults may prescribe disease-modifying antirheumatic (DMARD) drugs such as Methotrexate or a biologic, which is a type of DMARD. These drugs can help slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Physical therapy 

Physical therapy is an important treatment modality for arthritis patients. Once your inflammation has subsided, Dr. Shults recommends a course of physical therapy to help you regain mobility and flexibility in your joints. 

Continuing these exercises is important once your formal physical therapy appointments end. Your therapist teaches you the proper exercise form, which helps increase blood flow and natural lubrication to your joints. You should build these exercises into your normal daily routine. 

Regenerative medicine 

Regenerative medicine is transforming orthopedic practice. News reports of Tiger Wood and other athletes receiving platelet-rich plasma (PRP) two decades ago triggered a huge expansion in its use. Research shows that patients benefit from PRP injections for knee arthritis with better function and less pain. However, the studies have mixed results, possibly because of a need for more standardization of how the process is performed. Orthopedic practices also use PRP for hip and shoulder arthritis. 

Call Coastal Empire Orthopedics or book an appointment online today. We help keep you moving.

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