The Latest Treatments for Arthritis
An estimated 30 million people in the U.S. suffer from osteoarthritis, a degenerative disease of one or more joints. About 1.5 million of them have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This more debilitating form is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune disease that typically targets the lining of multiple joints throughout the body.
Because arthritis is such a common condition, treatment plans vary greatly and can be tailored to each patient’s specific needs. If you suspect you may be developing the condition, you may have had an X-ray to let your physicians diagnose, monitor, and treat your condition. However, many other tools have been developed that may also be important to getting you the best treatment plan for your needs.
Which Arthritis Treatment Will You Need?
Not too long ago there was little in the way of arthritis treatment, particularly for more severely affected patients. In recent years, however, new developments in both medications and surgeries are helping patients with arthritis live more fulfilling, pain-free lives. Some recent, experimental therapies are also showing promise.
Take a look at some of the many options for treating RA and osteoarthritis:
- Injection Therapy – Steroid injections are commonly used to treat pain related to osteoarthritis in multiple areas of the body. Depending on the severity of your condition, you may require one of several types of steroid injections for treatment. For example, corticosteroid injections combine an inflammation-reducing steroid and an anesthetic numbing agent. This helps relieve pain through inflammation reduction caused by arthritis in smaller joints and tendons.
- Medications – Rheumatoid arthritis is managed primarily through the use of biological response modifiers (RBMs) anddisease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDS). Long-term maintenance DMARDS slow the progression of the disease by suppressing white blood cell over-activity, which helps control the body’s immune and inflammatory responses. Taking them can prevent more serious symptoms and complications.
- NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most common and effective remedies for managing osteoarthritis pain today. Despite the availability of more advanced tools, drugs like Aspirin and Ibuprofen can still be very effective in reducing pain and inflammation.
- PRP therapy – Although still deemed experimental, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapyis a non-surgical option for treating arthritis. This therapy uses your own blood to alleviate pain and speed up healing. Ideally, the patient’s immune system will respond to the injection of white blood cells to the damaged tissue, which work to remove the damaged cells and prep them for healing. It’s been found to be particularly effective in treating osteoarthritis of the hip.
- Joint Repair: RA is typically treated through non-surgical means. But severe joint damage may require surgical intervention to prevent further damage, reduce pain, and improve the patient’s quality of life. A minimally invasive surgery can be used to smooth and realign the joints in cases where the cartilage has been severely depleted.
- Joint Fusion: In this procedure, the ends of bones are removed and realigned so that the new bones can knit together – most commonly in small joints of the feet or hands. For instance, finger joint fusion is typically performed to permanently stop movement in the joint nearest the fingertip (DIP Joint). Typically, after about six weeks, the ends of the bones heal to form a solid fusion.
In cases of severe joint damage or those in which medication and physical therapy don’t provide enough relief, a total joint replacement may be a last resort. This is most common in weight-bearing joints such as the knees and hips.
- MACI – A newer, non-surgical treatment to prevent osteoarthritis, matrix associated chondrocyte implantation (MACI) involves collecting the cells that form cartilage from the patient’s own joints. They are then grown in a laboratory and later injected into the knee. Approved for people under 55, the procedure is designed to grow new cartilage in younger patients with cartilage lesions related to previous injuries.
Advanced Diagnostics Help Treat Arthritis
Getting a quick and accurate diagnosis can help you get treated for arthritis more promptly so you can return to the activities you love. The specialists at MidAmerica Orthopaedics have access to top-of-the-line diagnostics tools associated with the treatment of arthritis. They include:
- Ultrasound imaging– An ultrasound produces images quickly and can detect movement in real time in joints affected by arthritis. An ultrasound procedure involves exposing part of the body to high-frequency sound waves that can produce images of the inside of the body.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)– An MRI uses a large magnet and computer-generated radio waves to create detailed images of organs and tissues in the body. This helps specialists understand the progress of arthritis or other inflammatory issues. MRI can help your physician assess damage to the cartilage in a knee affected by rheumatoid arthritis and ascertain the extent of inflammation of the joint and soft tissue.
Arthritis can run the gamut from mild to debilitating, and every case is different. If you are experiencing symptoms, talk to an arthritis specialist to find the treatment that best fits your case and lifestyle.
Our team of orthopaedic specialists provides patients with the most up-to-date diagnostic and treatment methods for any stage or type of arthritis. Visit MidAmerica Orthopaedics online to learn more. Call (708) 237-7200 to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists today.