Arthritis is the inflammation of joints, characterized by joint pain, diminished range of motion, swelling, stiffness and possibly other symptoms, depending on the variety and severity of the condition. The two most common forms are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Symptoms of arthritis typically intensify over time, so it is essential patients receive a proper diagnosis and consult a physician. While there is no cure, treatment can alleviate pain and reduce symptoms. Doctors will help patients decide on a course of treatment and care to improve their quality of life and slow the progression of the arthritis.
Diagnosis is made by analyzing fluids such as joint fluid, blood and urine to pinpoint the exact form of the condition. X-rays, ultrasound, arthroscopy, computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging may also be ordered by the physician.
A variety of medications may be prescribed to help counter arthritis and its symptoms. These include: disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as Rheumatrex (methotrexate), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), analgesics, and other anti-inflammatory and antirheumatic agents, such as Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine). Physical therapy can be another effective form of treatment and joint replacement or fusion surgeries may also be recommended to patients who have exhausted other treatment options.