Musculoskeletal and Rheumatology Blog

Are You at Risk for Arthritis?

Arthritis affects over 50 million U.S. adults and continues to be the most common cause of disability in the nation.

Arthritis is inflammation of a joint - resulting from a disease, infection, genetic defect, injury, overuse, or other cause - causing stiffness and pain. There is no known cure, but proper early treatment can help manage pain or prevent further joint damage. Typically, treatment will be different depending on the type of arthritis.

The two most common types are:

Osteoarthritis (OA), the most common form, is a degenerative disorder that causes the breakdown of cartilage in the joints.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints along with possible joint and bone damage.Arthritis risk infographic

Treating Arthritis

Although there is no way to reverse arthritis, there are numerous options to help relieve symptoms. Non-invasive treatments include medications, physical therapy, injections, and lifestyle changes, such as rest, exercise, and a healthy diet. However, if the pain persists, it may be time to speak with an orthopaedic surgeon.

“Typically, surgery is a last resort when other methods are unsuccessful”, says Dr. Neil P. Sheth, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. “The most common surgical treatment for end-stage hip and knee arthritis is a total joint replacement.” 

“This procedure replaces the damaged cartilage with a metal, plastic or ceramic implant that mimics the action of the joint”, Dr. Sheth explains. 

Like any surgery, it’s important to discuss with your doctor and determine whether joint replacement is right for you. Joint replacement may be an option if:

  • Medication is no longer effective at controlling your arthritis pain
  • The pain is more severe than in the past, and continues to disturb you even when resting
  • You’re struggling with everyday tasks or have given up activities you enjoy due to the pain
  • You’re healthy enough for surgery, and any other medical conditions you may have are well controlled

“Patients often ask, ‘when is it time to get a hip or knee replacement?’”, says Dr. Sheth. “When you start living your life, or changing your life for your hip or knee, and you are healthy enough for a joint replacement, it is time to have a conversation with your orthopaedic surgeon."

Learn how joint pain is effecting your body by taking an online risk profiler test.

Your physician can answer any questions you may have and help you understand what to expect before, during, and after joint replacement.

About this Blog

Keep up-to-date on the latest advancements in the musculoskeletal field, including bone, muscle and joint disease treatments, and other updates from experts at Penn Medicine. 

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