Overview: Arthritis Diagnosis & Treatment

Arthritis represents the cumulative effect that daily living will eventually have on joints. While it may surface more quickly in those who have consistently applied greater pressure on their joints over time, such as athletes or the overweight, or those predisposed to joint degeneration as a result of other conditions, it eventually effects the vast majority in one form or another.

Arthritis means joint inflammation in Latin, ("arth" meaning joint, and "itis" meaning inflammation) and actually represents over 100 different conditions and rheumatic diseases, with symptoms ranging from mild irritation to severe pain and deformity. But, with a growing awareness of the types of injuries and conditions that can contribute to common forms of arthritis in the upper extremity, there is more hope than ever before that many arthritic conditions effecting the musculoskeletal system can be avoided with early treatment - and the debilitating effects of more serious cases overcome with advanced joint restructuring and replacement techniques.

Common Causes of Arthritis
Affecting both the young and old, arthritis is generally the result of stress placed on the joint either from a musculoskeletal injury or excessive as well as daily wear and tear (accelerated in the overweight). This stress prompts the body's natural response system to signal distress through redness, swelling, a burning sensation and/or pain. If left untreated, inflammation and swelling would continue to stress the joint and surrounding tissue - ultimately leading to the degeneration of the cartilage cushioning the joint and the joint cavity.

Before many of the advanced imaging tools available in orthopedics today, it was difficult to determine the root cause of an irritation. A pressure or stress in one area may shoot pain to a completely different area of the effected limb, postponing proper diagnosis and treatment. A fracture that was not treated properly, or allowed to heal on its own though failed to heal properly, eventually impacts the effected joints.

Today the advances in orthopaedic technology enables orthopedic specialists to more clearly define the source of an injury, repair it precisely and avoid future degenerative conditions that could lead to arthritis. The same technology is helping to identify degenerative conditions earlier and treat them before they become debilitating and require more extensive treatment.

The key to deterring the degenerative effects of arthritis is early diagnosis and treatment.