What Is Arthritis?

arthritis in the ankleArthritis is a collection of more than 100 types of joint diseases and related conditions. More than 300,000 children and 53 million adults in the United States alone have arthritis. Arthritis is more common in women than in men and occurs more often in people over the age of 45.

Arthritis is characterized by stiffness, swelling, pain, and decreased mobility of the joints. Arthritis symptoms can range from mild to severe and may progress with time. Arthritis can cause permanent joint damage and changes in the joints, organs, and skin. X-rays can reveal most arthritic damage, but some result in visible joint deformities, such as knobby fingers or toes.

What Are the Most Common Types of Arthritis?

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between the joints is worn away through friction.

Healthy cartilage serves as a pillow between the two bony ends of a joint. Without cartilage, the bones grind against one another, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, and decreased mobility. Other common types of arthritis include:

  • Rheumatoid. Immune system attacks the joints, causing inflammation
  • Infectious. Bacteria, viruses, or fungi trigger inflammation
  • Metabolic. Build-ups of uric acid lead to a form of arthritis called gout
  • Psoriatic. Inflamed skin (psoriasis) and joints

What Causes Arthritis?

Risk factors that are associated with most forms of arthritis include:

  • Obesity
  • Family history
  • Eating pro-inflammatory foods  
  • Smoking or drinking alcohol
  • Eating foods high in purines (meat, seafood)
  • Sports injuries or other joint trauma
  • Exposure to viruses or toxins
  • Being female

How Can I Tell If I Have Arthritis?

The first sign that you may have arthritis are joints that are stiff. As arthritis progresses, your joints may be red or swollen. You may feel pain when you move and have limited mobility. You may also develop a rash.

What Are the Best Treatments for Arthritis?

The experts at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists start with lifestyle-based recommendations, such as modifying your diet and adding more exercises that can increase your joints’ mobility and stability. Your podiatrist may also recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage pain. In more severe cases, you may need methotrexate, steroids, biologics, or other drugs.  

When you have symptoms of arthritis, call the experts at Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for relief.

Contact us today to request an appointment!