From learning about the importance of exercising regularly to fully understanding your arthritis medications, the information contained in this section will provide you with insights, information and tips that can be used to help make living with arthritis a little bit more manageable.

Learning to make arthritis part of your life can be difficult. But understanding as much as you can about your particular type of arthritis – and actively working with your arthritis treatment team – are two very effective ways of regaining control over your life.

Try not to let arthritis beat you. How? Arm yourself with as much information as possible. Learn from the experiences of others in similar circumstances. Some things may work for you one day and not the other. That’s why we’ve tried to cover several topics in the “frequently asked questions” section below.

Arthritis Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is arthritis?

    The term arthritis literally means inflammation of a joint, but is generally used to describe any condition in which there is damage to the cartilage. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury. The warning signs that inflammation presents are redness, swelling, heat, and pain.

    The cartilage in a joint acts as a padding that absorbs stress. The proportion of cartilage damage and synovial inflammation varies with the type and stage of arthritis. Usually the pain felt in early stages is due to inflammation. In the later stages when the cartilage is worn away, most of the pain comes from the mechanical friction of raw bones rubbing against each other.

  • What are the different types and causes of arthritis?

    Osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease are the most common type of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is also known as “wear and tear arthritis” since the cartilage simply wears out. When cartilage wears away, bone rubs on bone causing severe pain and disability. The most frequent reason for osteoarthritis is genetic; the durability of each individual's cartilage is based on genetics.

    Trauma can also lead to osteoarthritis. A bad fall or blow to the knee can injure the joint. If the injury does not heal properly, extra force may be placed on the joint, which over time can cause the cartilage to wear away.

    Inflammatory Arthritis, which causes swelling and inflammation of the joint lining, releases enzymes which soften and eventually destroy the cartilage. Rheumatoid arthritis, Lupus, and psoriatic arthritis are diseases that are inflammatory in nature.

  • What causes osteoarthritis?

    Osteoarthritis is caused by the wearing out of the cartilage covering the bone ends in a joint. This may be due to excessive strain over prolonged periods of time, or due to other joint diseases, injury or deformity.
    Primary osteoarthritis is commonly associated with ageing and general degeneration of joints.

    Secondary osteoarthritis is generally the consequence of another disease or condition, such as repeated trauma or surgery to the affected joint, or abnormal joint structures from birth.

    Uric acid crystal build-up is the cause of gout and long-term crystal build-up in the joints may cause deformity.

    Some people may have congenital abnormalities of the joints-for example, Perthes’ disease of the hips-that cause early degeneration and subsequently cause osteoarthritis.

  • What are the predisposing factors to osteoarthritis of the hip?

    Some conditions may predispose the hip to osteoarthritis; it tends to affect people as they get older and particularly affects joints that take a lot of stress and strain. Predisposing factors include:

    • Growth abnormalities of the hip (such as a shallow socket) may lead to premature arthritis.
    • Some childhood hip problems later cause hip arthritis (for example, a type of childhood hip fracture known as a Slipped Epiphysis; also Legg-Perthe’s Disease).
    • Inactive lifestyle, which can cause obesity (overweight). Your weight is the single most important link between diet and arthritis; being overweight puts an additional burden on your hips, knees, ankles and feet.
    • A previous fracture that involved the hip.
  • What are the predisposing factors to osteoarthritis of the knee?

    Abnormalities of knee joint function resulting from fractures of the knee, torn cartilage and torn ligaments can lead to degeneration, many years after the initial injury. These mechanical abnormalities lead to excessive wear and tear – just like the out-of-balance tire on your care that wears out too soon.

  • What are the symptoms of arthritis?

    There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis and symptoms vary, depending on the form. They also affect the body differently.

    Arthritic symptoms generally include swelling and pain or tenderness in one or more joints for more than two weeks; redness or heat in a joint; limited motion of a joint; early morning stiffness; and skin changes, including rashes.

  • How can a doctor diagnose arthritis?

    Doctors diagnose osteoarthritis with a medical history, physical exam and radiographs. At times advanced imaging may be necessary. There is no blood test for osteoarthritis.
  • What can you do?

    • Consult a doctor who will determine the type of arthritis you have and will recommend further specific treatment plan.
    • Rest the joint until the pain subsides to prevent further inflammation.
    • To ease the pain or stiffness of the joint, apply heat on the joint for about 15 minutes once or twice a day using a hot water bottle, towel or an infrared lamp.
    • Take anti-inflammatories, as recommended by your doctor.
    • If you are overweight, try to reduce weight to lighten the load on weight-bearing joints.
    • Participate in regular low impact exercise.
  • What can your doctor do?

    There is no cure for arthritis, so beware of ‘miracle cures’. Your doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medicine. They may recommend occupational therapy or physiotherapy, which includes exercises and heat treatment. In severe cases, surgery may be suggested, such as a hip or knee replacement. The type of surgery will depend on your age and severity of the disease. In the elderly with severe arthritis, joint replacement can give good results.
  • What are the treatment options?

    • Initial treatment for osteoarthritis of the hip or knee is conservative, consisting of rest, avoidance of vigorous weight bearing activities, and the use of non-narcotic analgesic and or anti inflammatory medications. With worsening symptoms a cane or a knee brace may be helpful.
    • For more severe symptoms, an injection of cortisone into the joint is frequently advised and can be quite helpful. When conservative measures have been exhausted and are no longer helpful, and the arthritis has become disabling, surgery may be recommended.

    Treatment of osteoarthritis focuses on decreasing pain and improving joint movement, and may include:

    • Exercises to keep joints flexible and improve muscle strength
    • Many different medications are used to control pain, including corticosteroids and NSAIDs.
    • Glucocorticoids injected into joints that are inflamed and not responsive to NSAIDS.
    • For mild pain without inflammation, acetaminophen may be used.
    • Heat/cold therapy for temporary pain relief
    • Joint protection to prevent strain or stress on painful joints
    • Surgery (sometimes) to relieve chronic pain in damaged joints
    • Weight control to prevent extra stress on weight-bearing joints
  • Does exercise really help those who have arthritis?

    Exercise is very important because it increases lubrication of the joints and strengthens the surrounding muscles, putting less stress on joints. Exercise in heated swimming pools-hydrotherapy-can bring enormous relief from pain and stiffness. Also studies have shown that exercise helps people with arthritis by reducing joint pain and stiffness and increasing flexibility, muscle strength and energy. It also helps with weight reduction and offers an improved sense of well-being.
  • Can special diets treat arthritis?

    • If you have arthritis – are diet and nutrition still such a simple matter?
    • Can what you eat cure your arthritis? Can food prevent it from occurring?
    • Are there foods that can cause your arthritis to ‘flare’ or go into remission?
    • What role do vitamins and nutritional supplements play in the treatment of arthritis?
    • Will losing (or gaining) weight help ease your symptoms?
    • Will taking powerful anti-arthritic medications affect your appetite or your ability to eat certain foods?

    These are the questions that people with arthritis often ask, and they’re valid questions. Some questions (Can what you eat cure your arthritis?) have simple answers (No). Some questions (Are there foods that can cause your arthritis to ‘flare’ or go into remission?) aren’t so straightforward (Perhaps…).

    Most of what you need to know about diet and nutrition is common sense; healthy eating is pretty much the same for anyone, whether you have arthritis or not. But talk to your physician to discuss the latest advances in treating arthritis, and to determine if changing your diet could help ease your symptoms.

Orthopaedic Specialists of Connecticut, also known as Orthopedic Specialists of Connecticut, based in Brookfield, CT and Danbury, CT, provides comprehensive orthopaedic care, sports medicine, joint replacements, and interventional pain management to patients of all ages.

Orthopaedic Specialists of Connecticut, also known as Orthopedic Specialists of Connecticut, provides orthopedic care including: orthopedic examination, foot surgery, ankle surgery, hand surgery, hip surgery, hip replacement, hip resurfacing, knee surgery, knee replacement, orthopedic oncology, shoulder surgery, elbow surgery, and MAKOplasty.

Orthopaedic Specialists of Connecticut, also known as Orthopedic Specialists of Connecticut, also provides sports medicine, physical therapy, pain management, interventional pain management, radiology, x-ray, ultrasound, cortisone injection, and PRP injections.

Orthopaedic Specialists of Connecticut, also known as Orthopedic Specialists of Connecticut, treats sprains, fractures, ligament tears, arthritis, musculoskeletal pain, neurological pain, cancer pain, neck pain, and back pain.