Arthritis/Osteoarthritis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment — Torrance Arthritis Doctors at Rolling Hills Medical

man holding his wrist due to pain

Forms of arthritis comprise the most common chronic health conditions in the country. The team at Rolling Hills Medical is proud to help everyone in the Torrance area better understand arthritis, its symptoms, and the various treatment options that are available. There are many people who experience pain and discomfort on a daily basis from arthritis. By educating themselves with our help, patients and their families will be better informed when they arrive at our clinic in Torrance for a visit with one of our arthritis specialists.

Arthritis: General Overview / Introduction

Arthritis is a degenerative disease of the joint space. When someone develops arthritis, this chronic medical condition leads to inflammation of the joint space.

Inflammation in the joints degrades the cartilage that rests between the bony surfaces of the joints. Without this cartilaginous cushion, the surfaces of the bones start to rub up against each other directly. This leads to a breakdown of the joint surfaces, chronic pain, further inflammation, and can eventually lead to problems moving the joints.

Symptoms of arthritis often vary with the type of arthritis and the severity of the condition, with some patients experiencing some of the following, while others may see all of these issues:

  • Severe pain in one or more joints, which worsens when someone presses on them or attempts to move
  • Joints that start to turn red or swell
  • Stiffness in their joints that may vary with the time of day
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Loss in the joint's range of motion

Common Causes of Arthritis

older male patient speaking to his doctor

The term arthritis is an umbrella for various types of joint inflammations, of which rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and osteoarthritis are more specific examples. Each type of arthritis has a different cause and treatment methodology.

Rheumatoid arthritis, for example, is one of the more common forms of arthritis. This condition occurs when a patient’s own immune system attacks the lining of the cushion between joints, mistakenly breaking it down like it would an infectious disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis is less common than osteoarthritis, and the exact causes are unknown, but risk factors have been identified:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Family history of Rheumatoid Arthritis, as there appears to be a genetic component to this condition
  • Smoking, or exposure to harmful materials like asbestos or silica
  • Gender, as women have a slightly higher risk of developing Rheumatoid Arthritis

 

Common Causes of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is simply the most common form of arthritis, affecting tens of millions of people in the United States alone. Osteoarthritis has very similar risk factors to Rheumatoid Arthritis, but is mostly related to aging rather than a specific cause, and can be exacerbated by previous injuries or repetitive movement.

While Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic disease and affects all joints, Osteoarthritis typically develops more slowly and in specific areas rather than throughout the whole body. Osteoarthritis symptoms also tend to occur later in life, with one in two adults eventually experiencing some level of osteoarthritis in their knees. The hips, hands, and spine are also common locations for osteoarthritis to develop.

While the causes and types of arthritis differ, all forms involve the breaking down of the cushion between joints and the rubbing of bones leading to pain and inflammation.

Treatments / Therapies the Clinic Offers that Help Provide Osteoarthritis and Arthritis Relief

woman stretching her body on a yoga ball

When someone seeks the help of an osteoarthritis doctor in Torrance, there are several treatment options that might be recommended. Some of the options that we provide include:

  • Medical Therapy: Anti-inflammatory medications are a first line of defense against arthritis. These medications are designed to reduce the inflammation within the joint space, thus stopping or slowing any further destruction of cartilage and bone.
  • Exercises: Performing simple exercises can strengthen the muscles around the joint. By providing additional support for the joint itself, stress will be removed from the joint space. We are capable of teaching various techniques tailored specifically to each unique patient.
  • Steroid Injections: There are also steroid injections available that target the source of the inflammation directly. By injecting steroids into the joint space, inflammation is halted and pain can be removed. These small injections might need to be repeated periodically to continue being effective.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be recommended to remove scar tissue and repair the remaining cushion in an affected joint area. Our surgeons at Rolling Hills Medical are trained to provide top-tier service and aftercare to help you on your journey to recovery.

Anyone who is looking for an arthritis doctor in Torrance should rely on the team at Rolling Hills Medical. Our experienced medical team works hard to tailor every treatment plan to meet the individual needs of our patients. We will take the time to understand your concerns and come up with a customized plan to address them. We work hard to stay on the cutting edge of medical therapy and treatment. Please call us today at (424) 267-2491 to make an appointment. We would be honored to serve you and your family. 

 

What is the difference between osteoarthritis and arthritis?

At Rolling Hills Medical, two of the most common conditions that we see are arthritis and osteoarthritis. Often, people are confused about exactly what condition they have. On the surface, arthritis is a broad chronic condition of which there are many types. Some of these include rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Therefore, osteoarthritis is a subset of arthritis as a whole. Commonly, people use the term "arthritis" when they are actually referring to rheumatoid arthritis. There are several differences between rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis that people should keep in mind when they see a Torrance osteoarthritis doctor.

The Age of Onset of Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis

athletic guy holding his shoulder due to arthritis pain.

One of the major differences between the two conditions is the age at which they first present. Those who develop osteoarthritis typically start to develop the symptoms later in life. In contrast, anyone who is developing generalized arthritis can develop this condition at any stage in life. The age at which the symptoms start helps a Torrance arthritis doctor figure out which type of arthritis people have.

The Speed of Development in Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis

Another major difference is the speed at which the symptoms are going to progress. The symptoms in osteoarthritis tend to develop slowly and gradually. Often, the symptoms have been developing for years before someone seeks medical care. In contrast, those who develop generalized arthritis notice their symptoms progress more rapidly, typically over the course of a few weeks. This prompts individuals to seek care from an arthritis doctor in Torrance more quickly.

The Type of Symptoms in Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis

male having shoulder pain

The exact types of symptoms in arthritis and osteoarthritis are also going to vary slightly. In generalized arthritis, the joints are extremely painful. Often, they appear both swollen and stiff, restricting the range of motion. Sometimes, the joints are even red. In contrast, the joints in osteoarthritis tend to ache. They might even be tender when people press on them. On the other hand, the very rarely swell and the actual range of motion is very rarely restricted. This difference helps the physician make the diagnosis.

Where the Symptoms Appear in Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis

wrist and hand pain

Next, the doctor is also going to consider where the symptoms appear. In generalized arthritis, the symptoms will show up on both sides of the body. It also affects both large joints and small joints. This includes the hands, wrists, elbows, and balls of the feet. In osteoarthritis, the symptoms usually start on only one side of the body. The symptoms are also limited to a single set of joints. Common locations include the hips, knees, fingers, or spine. The presentation is different and sets the two conditions apart.

A Key Difference Between Arthritis vs. Osteoarthritis: Morning Stiffness

One of the key questions that the doctor is going to ask has to do with morning stiffness. In generalized arthritis, the stiffs feel exceptionally stiff in the morning. Typically, it takes more than an hour for this stiffness to resolve. Once it's gone, it usually stays away until the following morning. In contrast, the morning stiffness in osteoarthritis tends to resolve in far less than an hour. Then, the stiffness will return at the end of the day once the joints have had a full day of use.

Rely on a Torrance Arthritis Doctor

It is important for everyone with these symptoms to seek the care of an osteoarthritis doctor in Torrance. At Rolling Hills Medical, we will present you with all of your treatment options. We will work with you to develop a treatment plan that has been customized to meet your individual needs. Please call us today at (424) 267-2491 to schedule an appointment with our team!

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