Inflammatory arthritis is an umbrella term for a group of inflammatory autoimmune diseases in which the immune system mistakenly attacks joint tissue. Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most common form of inflammatory arthritis and typically affects the small joints of the wrists, hands, and feet, causing swelling, tenderness, pain, and limited movement.
While there is currently no known cure for RA, it is possible to manage the symptoms and even prevent severe joint and tissue damage. As an orthopedic specialist located in Los Angeles, CA, Dr. Daniel C. Allison has extensive training and experience helping RA sufferers overcome the challenges of living with an inflammatory autoimmune disease. To learn more about treating this condition, please contact our office to schedule an appointment at (310) 683-4586 today.Contact Us About Inflammatory Arthritis
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the synovial membrane or the lining of the joints in the hands and feet. In some cases, other parts of the body may be affected by RA, including the eyes, skin, blood vessels, and lungs. The disease typically occurs after age 40 and overwhelmingly affects women more than men.
The symptoms of RA may occur in waves of increased disease activity known as flare ups, and include the following:
- Warm, swollen joints
- Stiff joints, particularly during the morning hours
- Weight loss
- Bumps under the skin of the arms (rheumatoid nodules)
If left untreated, RA, as with other autoimmune inflammatory disorders, can cause the joints to degenerate and deform, making movement both painful and difficult.
Doctors diagnose osteoarthritis by speaking with the patient regarding their medical history, physical exam, diagnostics including imaging tests of the affected area and performing lab tests such as:
- X-Ray – Reveals cartilage loss indicated by narrowing of space between bones and joints; bone spurs around a joint.
- MRI – Shows detailed images of bone and soft tissues, including cartilage.
- Blood Tests – Rule out other causes of joint pain, including rheumatoid arthritis.
- Joint Fluid Analysis – Examines and tests joint fluid to determine cause of pain.
Treating Inflammatory Arthritis
While there is no one-size-fits-all cure for inflammatory diseases such as RA, it is possible to reduce the painful side effects. Initially, treatment begins with conservative options, such as pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and physical therapy to preserve joint flexibility.
When conservative methods fail to alleviate the symptoms and joint damage of RA, surgery may help reduce pain and restore movement and function. Surgical options for RA include:
- Tendon Repair – Inflammation around the small joints of the hands, wrists, and feet can cause the tendons to loosen or break. It is possible to surgically repair and reconstruct the tendons to preserve function and prevent further damage or immobility.
- Joint Fusion – In some cases, it may be necessary to fuse certain joints together to stabilize and align the bones. Fusing the bones together can alleviate pain and may be an ideal alternative to total joint replacement.
- Total Joint Replacement – The damaged cartilage and joint tissue is removed and replaced with a custom plastic and metal prosthesis. Joint replacement is often reserved as a last option after conservative methods such as pain management and therapy have failed.
Read more about inflammation and arthritis from cdc.gov.
Contact the Orthopedic Oncologist Specialist
If inflammatory arthritis is affecting your mobility and lifestyle, Dr. Daniel C. Allison and his staff provide the best care and expertise in cases of major bone and soft tissue damage. We specialize in patients with traumatic injuries who need help from an orthopedic surgeon with expertise in musculoskeletal conditions. Together we can devise the best treatment option for you. Please contact our Los Angeles office for an appointment at (310) 730-8008.
Next, please read about post-traumatic arthritis.Contact Us About Inflammatory Arthritis