Arthritis and Gout – What You Should Know
Arthritis is a very common chronic condition that affects the joints and bones in people over 60 years old. It is the most common cause of joint-related deaths in the U.S. There are many forms of treatment for arthritis, but each method has its own drawbacks. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged cartilage or replace damaged joints. Medications that control symptoms of arthritis can help relieve pain, control inflammation, improve joint function and slow the progression of arthritis.
There are two forms of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is degenerative in nature, causing cartilage to break down gradually. With this type of arthritis, the cartilage cushion wears away causing a bone on one joint to protrude onto another, causing severe damage. The inflammatory form of arthritis involves swelling caused by the production of waste products, making it hard for the joints to move.
Inflammatory arthritis usually produces intense, sharp pain. One of the most common symptoms is redness, warmth, swelling, and stiffness of surrounding joints. Redness typically occurs following exercise, while stiffness occurs after rest. Swelling is most commonly present in between the fingers, toes, palms, and knees boca.
Treatments for arthritis vary depending on the form of arthritis, as well as the amount of swelling present. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen, are helpful for pain control, but do not help reduce inflammation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories can reduce swelling, however, do not heal the joint. Steroids are helpful for joint inflammation and pain, especially when swelling is present, as they block the formation of new synovial fluid that lines the joints. Synovial fluid cushions the joints and helps them move, but if this liquid is lost due to joint inflammation, then steroid injection may be needed to restore fluid movement.
Besides NSAIDs and steroids, certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatories can also help with joint pain and swelling. Ketoconazole is taken orally to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. It can decrease the redness associated with arthritis. Some of the side effects of this treatment include stomach upset, headache, and diarrhea. It is best to check with your doctor before taking this medication.
Surgery is a very last resort for arthritis sufferers. When arthritis is in its advanced and mature stages, it often will dictate how many times a patient must undergo surgery. When there is a chance that the problem will cause another life-threatening condition, the doctor may perform surgery to fix the joint damage only. In some cases, where joint deformity may occur because of the underlying disease causing arthritis, surgery is not always necessary. Other times, where there is only one joint affected, joint fusion is performed.
If you have gout, and this affects your ability to produce a proper amount of uric acid, you could possibly benefit from a low-protein diet and/or a strict low-protein, low-sodium diet. This is because the excess uric acid is converted to plaque and leaks into the bloodstream instead of being excreted from the body. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and low-fat dairy products will help prevent the buildup of uric acid. If you have gout and have had some negative symptoms such as joint pain and swelling, your doctor will most likely recommend that you take prescription medications, depending on the type of arthritis you have.
Anyone who has arthritis symptoms should consult a doctor. Even if you have pain that is tolerable or mild, see a doctor. Sometimes, if inflammation is present, a doctor may recommend anti inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen, which can be purchased over-the-counter. You can also take prescription strength pain killers such a Neurontin and Motrin. If these do not relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery for joint replacement or to remove some of the damaged cartilage. Arthritis is a common and treatable illness.