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Getting Diagnosed with Arthritis: What Are My Treatment Options?

with Michael Chamblee, MD

Orthopaedic Surgeon

Getting a diagnosis of arthritis might be a life-changing event. After the initial shock wears off, you might be wondering whether your life will ever be the same with a chronic illness like arthritis. Will the pain keep you from living a full and productive life? How can people with arthritis manage the illness successfully? Here, we’ll cover some of the main arthritis treatment options and how they can help you get relief from pain.

What is arthritis?

What is commonly referred to as “arthritis” is an umbrella term for more than 100 different types of joint diseases. Dr. Michael Chamblee, an orthopedic surgeon at Baldwin Bone and Joint explains, “Arthritis is caused by the wearing away of the articular cartilage that lets the joints move. When that cartilage is worn down – think of it as wearing down the tread on a car tire – the patient is left with bone rubbing against bone. Major symptoms will be inflammation, swelling, pain, clicking, popping, and grinding.”

The degenerative joint condition known as osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, but the immune system, metabolic processes, and even bacteria and viruses can cause other forms. Together, joint pain and joint diseases under the umbrella term of “arthritis” affect 50 million adults in the United States and 300,000 children. (Arthritis Foundation)

What are the treatment options for arthritis?

From simple dietary supplements you can buy over the counter to surgery that completely replaces your joint cartilage, Dr. Chamblee presented a spectrum of arthritis treatment options to relieve the pain and inflammation:

Dietary Supplements

Turmeric – A yellow-colored powder ground from the root of the turmeric plant found commonly in India and Indonesia known to relieve joint pain.

Glucosamine – A supplement derived from the shells of shellfish or vegetables that is a major component of joint cartilage.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory Drugs – Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other NSAIDs can help reduce the inflammation that comes with arthritis. Some will be available over the counter while others require a prescription from your doctor.

Steroid Injections – Corticosteroids resemble the hormone cortisol in your body and can help reduce inflammation and pain in your joints.

Physical Therapy – Physical therapy can strengthen joints that have been weakened by the wearing down of cartilage and the grinding of the bone. In the case of knee arthritis, physical therapists may recommend a low-impact exercise program like biking and swimming.

Surgery – When all other options have been exhausted and the pain persists, a patient may choose to have a partial or total replacement of all the damaged cartilage. Patients can typically expect a 2 to 3-month recovery process but once recovered, they will have normal function and motion with less pain than before.

A member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Dr. Michael Chamblee is an expert on treating arthritis. If you are experiencing pain and stiffness in your joints, call (251) 625-2663 to schedule a medical consultation with Dr. Michael Chamblee or another expert at Baldwin Bone and Joint.