Of all the things people look forward to when getting older, arthritis probably isn’t on anyone’s list. The Arthritis Foundation conservatively estimates that around 54 million adults have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. When you add in people who grit their teeth and never see a doctor about their pain, that number grows higher.
Like many other conditions and diseases, arthritis can be effectively managed and controlled. Although you may never regain the flexibility of a 25-year-old, many people are still able to have active, energetic lifestyles after a diagnosis. With the right doctor and treatment plan, you can make living with arthritis a breeze.
If you think you have arthritis or have already been diagnosed, come see the team at Rimma Gelbert, DO. Dr. Gelbert helps her patients get relief from arthritis. As a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Gelbert uses both conventional and alternative methods to holistically reduce arthritis pain and increase function and mobility.
What is arthritis?
According to the CDC, arthritis is a general term for conditions that impact the joints or tissues around the joint. Although there are over 100 types of arthritis, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis are what most people mean when they say arthritis. Osteoarthritis is often associated with the wear and tear of joints over time; it’s the most common form of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks itself.
How does osteoarthritis develop?
When you think cartilage, you probably think about your nose and ears, which are primarily made of cartilage. For joints, however, cartilage serves as a firm, slippery tissue that enables nearly frictionless joint motion. It also acts as a shock absorber, changing shape to cushion bones through impact.
Eventually, the cartilage starts to get stiff and less elastic. In some spots, it wears down and can no longer serve as a shock-absorbing material. Additionally, cartilage can completely wear off, leaving bones to rub against each other.
While arthritis only directly impacts cartilage, the rest of the joint is impacted. With no cartilage, your bones begin to change and the connective tissues that connect muscles and bones begin to deteriorate. That irritation can cause inflammation of the joint lining. What does all this add up to? A lot of pain and discomfort.
What are the risks?
There are a few risk factors that increase your probability of developing osteoarthritis. They include:
- Age: Your risk of developing osteoarthritis increases with age
- Sex: Women are more likely to develop osteoarthritis
- Obesity: Excess weight puts stress on your bones and joints
- Joint injuries: Past injuries, even those that occurred long ago and fully-healed, increase your risk
- Occupational hazards: Jobs that require repetitive stress of a certain joint may accelerate degeneration of cartilage
- Genetics: Some people inherit an increased risk of osteoarthritis
None of these risk factors are a sign you definitely have arthritis. While most elderly people develop arthritis at some point, it may never become more than a mild irritant. Young people, especially those who've suffered traumatic injuries or over-train for sports, are also susceptible.
How can you treat arthritis?
If you’re experiencing pain, stiffness, or swelling around the joints, it’s time to make an appointment with Dr. Gelbert. She’ll use a physical exam, imaging tests, blood tests, and joint fluid tests to produce a diagnosis.
Once you’re diagnosed, Dr. Gelbert will work with you to create a custom treatment plan based around your needs and the severity of your arthritis. Your treatment plan will include a combination of conventional medicine and alternative methods.
Potential treatments include:
- Prescription and over the counter medication
- Gentle manipulation
- Healthy lifestyle counseling
By deploying a combination of the above, Dr. Gelbert can help reduce pain and inflammation while also limiting flare-ups.
Don’t let arthritis control your life. Dr. Gelbert and the rest of our team at Rimma Gelbert, DO can help you manage and control your arthritis symptoms. Visit our website to book an appointment in our Brooklyn office today.