Joint Pain? Do I have arthritis?
Arthritis is basically pain and inflammation in a joint, also known as “Degenerative Joint Disease“ or DJD. The most common type of arthritis is called “osteoarthritis”, which basically means the gradual degeneration of a joint. Other types of DJD include rheumatoid arthritis, septic (infectious) arthritis, gouty arthritis, and other rarer types.
Almost any joint in the body can become involved in DJD, and this varies from person to person, and is based on the location and type of inflammation of the various joints. The treatment of osteoarthritis depends on many factors, such as the joint involved, the severity of symptoms, and other concurrent conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions, lifestyle, kidney disease, etc.
One class of medicine to treat DJD, known as “NSAIDS” (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs”) is frequently used to treat arthritis. Some NSAIDs can be purchased over the counter, but sometimes can lead to problems if taken long-term without the supervision of a doctor.
Gastrointestinal problems are one of the most common side effects of NSAID therapy, followed by kidney problems. Other medicines that are sometimes used to treat arthritis are steroids, such as prednisone. These also reduce inflammation like the NSAIDs, but in a different way. Steroids can also be associated with long-term side effects, so you should be monitored by your doctor when on these as well.
The newest class of drugs to treat some types of arthritis is called “immunotherapy”, which is designed to modify your body’s immune response, since some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are due to the body’s own immune system causing joint inflammation.
Immunotherapy involves reducing this “immune response”, or in other ways treating the immune system to minimize the joint inflammation.