Health Library ~ Family Medicine in Mullica Hill, NJ

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By Craig M. Wax, DO

Joint pain and stiffness can be the result of arthritis.  There are two fundamental types of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Although both may produce similar symptoms, they are different in their cause and treatment.

 Osteoarthritis is "wear and tear" disease of the joints.  As we age, our joint tissues become less flexible.  The cartilage cushions in our joints can wear out.  Less fluid cushion is in the joints as we age.  All these factors contribute to osteoarthritis.  The changes can take place in any joints, knees, hips, back, neck, etc.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease.  This refers to the fact that, in some individuals, the immune system antibodies can attack joint tissue.  This can make the surfaces less smooth and even ragged.  In some severe cases, it can destroy the joints and make them unusable.

To differentiate between these and other arthritic conditions, physicians begin with a detailed history.  Certain answers to questions can give physicians clues to the diagnosis.  Physical exam findings also may suggest a diagnosis.  Blood tests and imaging studies (x-ray, CT, MRI) may be used to confirm the diagnosis.

Certain supplements can improve arthritic conditions.  Glucosamine and chondroitin are constituents of healthy joint and are available in capsule form.  Antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E are also helpful to prevent further tissue damage.

Exercise is a critical factor in preventing and even treating various forms of arthritis.  Daily stretching and flexibility programs keep the muscles and joints more flexible.  Cardiovascular exercise can increase healthy fluid flow to and from joints and other tissues.

Prevention and proper treatment will help toward worry free body performance.

Craig M. Wax, DO, LLC of Mullica Hill, NJ provides information on health, nutrition, family medicine, preventive medicine, wellness, natural treatments, alternative medicine, integrative medicine, osteopathic medicine and just plain common sense.
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