Get On the Path To Arthritis Treatment And Relief

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When you begin having joint pain and think it may be a sign you have arthritis, what is the best way to go about being diagnosed to make sure – and get relief from the pain?

The place to start, says orthopedic surgeon Michael Raab, MD, is your primary care physician or provider.

“Your primary care physician understands your medical history, understands the risk factors you may have as far as the particular types of anti-inflammatories (medications that control pain, inflammation, and swelling) that you may or may not require, and also can perform your initial evaluation regarding if you have arthritis.”

The evaluation will include a physical exam, which could include blood and/or imaging tests.

Dr. Michael Raab covers the typical course of treatment you may encounter for treatment of joint pain and arthritis.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

After making a diagnosis, your provider can start you on anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy.

Your provider may also determine other conservative, nonsurgical treatment options that could benefit you and may recommend lifestyle changes such as exercise, weight management, and diet.

With testing, your provider can also determine whether you have osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, the two most common types of arthritis, or a less common form.

Knowing this will enable your primary care provider to “direct you on to the next appropriate professional,” Dr. Raab says.

The Path For Rheumatoid Arthritis

If your doctor determines that you have rheumatoid arthritis, she will refer you to a rheumatologist, a medical specialist who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the joints.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which your body's immune system attacks your joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling, most commonly in the hands, feet, wrists, elbows, knees, and ankles.

Inflammation, another symptom of rheumatoid arthritis, if not managed, can lead to permanent, irreversible joint damage.

A rheumatologist can provide nonsurgical treatment, including prescription of more advanced medications.

The Path For Osteoarthritis

If your primary care provider determines that you have osteoarthritis, your doctor may start you on anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, braces, or injections, Dr. Raab says. These are conservative, nonsurgical approaches to osteoarthritis treatment.

“After that, if you and your physician believe your pain is not responding and the pain is interfering with your activities of daily living, your sleep, your rest, or your functional ability,” you may be referred to an orthopedic surgeon to consider surgical options, such as joint replacement.

Osteoarthritis, “the wear and tear arthritis,” says Dr. Raab, more commonly occurs later in life. Cartilage, which lines and cushions your joints, may wear away from years of mechanical motion of the joints.

Find Your Perfect Match

Answer a few questions and we'll provide you with a list of primary care providers that best fit your needs.

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