Can osteoarthritis cripple you? | Las Vegas, NevadaOsteoarthritis (OA) can be crippling if untreated as it disintegrates the cartilage that supports the joints of the spine, knees, hands, and spine.

This causes debilitating pain because the bones start rubbing against one another. This can impact an individual’s ability to work and perform otherwise routine activities such as standing up after being seated for a few hours.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide treatments for the knee, shoulder and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

 

Severe Effects of Osteoarthritis

OA can lead to severe pain as well as limit joint motions, sometimes to the point of disability. In general, this means that a person cannot perform the routine activities of daily life anymore, such as bending down, climbing up a flight of stairs, walking for a distance, or even getting dressed by themselves.

Osteoarthritis can also impact the ligaments and muscles. Individuals with OA can sometimes suffer from depression and helplessness due to their limitations. This can be disabling as well. In this condition, medication and physical therapy may be helpful.

In the event that the patient is unresponsive to other treatments, joint replacement surgery can usually help individuals with this debilitating condition become independent again.

There are various ways to avoid or slow down the disabling impact of osteoarthritis with pain drugs, exercise, physical therapy, and surgery. It typically takes years for OA to become severe. However, it may progress quite quickly in some cases. There are varying levels of disability, and only a doctor can diagnose a person with a disability associated with OA.

It is important to keep in perspective that all osteoarthritis patients do not become disabled by it. A person can take various steps such as exercising and losing weight to help them manage their OA and prevent disability over time.

 

Measures for Arthritis Pain Relief

Arthritis medication or treatment is only one element of the fight against arthritis. Some other things that an individual can do to relieve pain and enhance mobility are as follows:

 

Regular Exercise

The joints may ache, but not because they require rest. Osteoarthritis patients can improve their strength and flexibility, and get some pain relief from a combination of moderate stretching, weight lifting, and aerobic exercises such as water exercise classes, swimming, and cycling.

A doctor can help the patient devise an exercise regimen that offers the maximum benefits with little discomfort. In fact, there are even specific exercises to stretch the fingers.

 

Maintain a Healthy Weight

If a person is overweight, reducing a few pounds can help them take the strain off their joints and reduce pain.

 

Be Mindful of the Posture

Good posture can ease and prevent OA-related pain in the hips, back, and knees.

The patient should adapt their environment to their condition. If they have arthritis in their fingers, for example, they may require footwear that fastens with Velcro rather than laces.

 

Be a Part of a Support Group

It can be deeply rewarding for patients to share their experiences with others. Support groups can help the patient learn practical tips for managing arthritis.

 

Need for Timely Treatment

Prompt treatment can prevent OA from causing disability. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this disease is behind over 27.5 million outpatient visits annually. It is also the primary reason for joint-replacement surgery.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler receive patients for knee, shoulder and other joint treatments from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas. If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

What are the early signs of osteoarthritis? | Las Vegas, NevadaThe symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) vary depending on which joints are impacted and how severely they are affected. But the most common symptoms of this condition are pain and stiffness, especially right after getting up in the morning or after resting.

The affected joints may get inflamed, particularly after extended activity. Rather than showing up suddenly, these symptoms tend to build-up over time.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provide treatments for the knee, shoulder, and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

 

Signs and Symptoms

Common osteoarthritis symptoms include:

Pain: The joint may hurt during or after movement.

Tenderness: The joint may feel tender when light pressure is applied to it.

Stiffness: The patient may experience the most joint stiffness when they wake up in the morning or after a period of being inactive.

Loss of Flexibility: The patient may not be able to move their joint through its complete range of motion.

Grating Sensation: The patient may hear or feel a grafting sensation when they use the joint.

Bone Spurs: These are extra bits of bone which feel like hard lumps and may develop around the impacted joint.

Patients who experience persistent joint pain or stiffness should consult with their doctor.

While it is often possible to effectively manage osteoarthritis symptoms, the underlying process cannot be reversed. The progression of the condition may slow down by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and undergoing treatment.

 

Risk Factors

The risk of osteoarthritis development increases due to the following factors:

Family History

At times, osteoarthritis development depends on genetic predisposition. A person is more likely to develop OA if their parents or siblings have the condition. Researchers still do not understand why this condition runs in families. While no specific gene has been identified as the reason for OA development, genes may contribute to a higher risk.

Age

Osteoarthritis causes the degeneration of joints, and it becomes more common as people age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than one-third of adults over the age of 65 years have OA symptoms.  

Gender

Osteoarthritis can impact men as well as women. The National Institutes of Health highlights that it is slightly more prevalent in men until the age of 45 years. After that, it occurs more commonly in women. This may be an indication of the different joint stressors that males and females experience at different ages.

Obesity

Being overweight is a contributory factor in OA development. The more a person weighs, the higher their risk of developing this condition. Excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints; the joints of the hips and knees are certainly among them. To build onto that, fat tissue generates proteins that may lead to harmful swelling in and around the joints.

Joint Injuries

Osteoarthritis risks may increase due to injuries that occur when playing sports or those sustained from an accident. In fact, even an injury sustained several years ago, and one that appears to have healed can increase OA risks.

Certain Occupations

People working in an occupation that creates repetitive stress on a specific joint may eventually develop OA.

Bone Deformities

Some individuals are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints. This may increase the risk of OA development.

 

Complications

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that becomes worse over time. The patient may experience severe joint pain and stiffness making even routine tasks difficult to perform. Some individuals may no longer be able to work. Doctors may recommend joint replacement surgery when joint pain is this severe.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, receive patients for knee, shoulder and other joint treatments from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Arthritis and osteoarthritis treatment

People experiencing pain or stiffness in the joints may have a form of arthritis, which is a medical condition characterized by the inflammation and swelling of the joints.

The two most commonly occurring types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis also includes other conditions such as gout, fibromyalgia, and lupus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that around one in every five adults in the US suffers from arthritis.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide treatments for the knee, shoulder and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.

Growing Concerns about Arthritis and Osteoarthritis

The CDC believes that today arthritis is a growing concern in the area of public health. Arthritis is often considered an age-related disease.

However, almost two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65 years of age. In addition, arthritis is the most common type of disability with almost 21 million people in the US reporting suffering from activity limitations due to arthritis.

What are the differences between arthritis and osteoarthritis?

Some key differences are as follows:

How is osteoarthritis different from arthritis?

Arthritis refers to a general medical term for any chronic disease that damages the cartilage and joints. In osteoarthritis, joint damage occurs due to natural wear and tear over time.

Rheumatoid arthritis causes the body’s own immune system to attack the joints which may cause inflammation, pain, and the gradual destruction of the cartilage at the joint. Rheumatoid arthritis impacts the inner lining of the joints, unlike the “wear and tear” damage that osteoarthritis causes.

What is osteoarthritis?

One of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis. It is known as “wear and tear” arthritis as this condition develops when the protective cartilage covering the bone ends degenerates over time. Treatments can slow the progression of this disease, but there is no known cure.

How can I reduce my risk for arthritis?

Similar to many chronic conditions, weight gain increases the risk for arthritis as well as osteoarthritis. If a person is obese or overweight, the extra weight causes stress on weight-bearing joints such as the knees. This can worsen joint pain.

Women are at a higher risk of osteoarthritis development, although further research is necessary to determine why. In addition, if a person engages in tasks with repetitive motions, it may place extra stress on a particular joint. This may pose an increased risk for osteoarthritis development.

Do arthritis and osteoarthritis have different symptoms?

The common symptoms of arthritis include stiffness, pain, tenderness, and soreness at the joints. The symptoms of osteoarthritis are usually more evident in the morning after a person wakes up or after an extended duration of inactivity. The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include firm bumps of tissue beneath the skin, fatigue, fever, and weight loss.

People experiencing such symptoms should consult their doctor promptly. The early diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis is especially important.

What can you do to manage your arthritis better?

For patients of arthritis, it is quite natural to feel frustrated with the chronic pain. Symptoms of arthritis such as swelling, tenderness, and inflammation can impede living an active lifestyle.

But self-management techniques can significantly enhance the quality of the patient’s life. Performing low-impact physical activity such as swimming enhances circulation and helps reduce pain. Dietary and lifestyle changes may also be beneficial.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler receive patients for knee, shoulder and other joint treatments from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Osteoarthritis Treatment

At present, there is no way to reverse the process underlying osteoarthritis (OA). However, there are effective techniques to manage to manage OA with lifestyle changes, physical and other treatments, drugs, and surgery.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provide treatments for the knee, shoulder and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

Treatment Options

The most effective ways to treat osteoarthritis are exercising and attaining a healthy body weight. The doctor may also recommend the following:

Medications

Certain medications can help manage OA symptoms, particularly the pain associated with the condition. These include:

Acetaminophen

Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) has been shown to effectively manage OA symptoms in patients with mild to moderate pain. It is important to remember that taking more than the recommended acetaminophen dosage can lead to liver damage.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

OTC NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve, others), taken at the recommended doses usually effectively relieve OA pain. Stronger NSAIDs are available by prescription and may slightly reduce the swelling along with offering pain relief.

NSAIDs can lead to an upset stomach, cardiovascular issues, bleeding problems, and kidney and liver damage. Topical NSAIDs may have fewer side-effects and may offer effective pain relief.

Duloxetine (Cymbalta)

This pain med is normally prescribed as an antidepressant. It is also approved for the treatment of chronic pain, including OA pain.

Surgical and Other Procedures

Patients who do not experience relief with conservative treatments may consider procedures such as:

Cortisone Injections

Injecting corticosteroid drugs into the affected joint may offer pain relief to the patient. In this procedure, the doctor will numb the area around the joint and then place a needle into the space within the joint and inject the drug.

Cortisone injections are usually restricted to three or four injections annually since this drug worsens joint deterioration over time.

Lubrication Injections

HA injections may also provide pain relief by creating some cushioning in the knee. But according to some research studies, these injections are no more effective in relieving pain than a placebo. HA is similar to a substance normally found in the joint fluid.

Realigning Bones

If OA has damaged one side of the knee more than the other, the patient may benefit from an osteotomy. Knee osteotomy involves the surgeon cutting across the bone either above or below the knee.

After this, they will remove or add a wedge of bone. This allows the body weight to move away from the compromised portion of the knee.

Joint Replacement

Joint replacement surgery, or arthroplasty, involves the surgeon removing damaged joint surfaces and replacing them with plastic and metal parts. The surgical risks of this procedure include blood clots and infections. In addition, artificial joints can wear out or dislodge and may require replacement over time.

Coping and Support

Certain treatments and lifestyle changes are crucial to the management of pain and disability due to osteoarthritis. However, the patient’s outlook on life is also a major element in OA management.

A person’s ability to cope despite the pain and disability due to OA often determines how the condition affects their daily life. Patients who feel frustrated should consult their doctors as they may have ideas on how to cope with osteoarthritis or may refer them to someone who can help.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provide treatments for the knee, shoulder and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Degeneration of Joint Cartilage 

In the normal course, cartilage goes through a normal cycle of breakdown and repair. However, in patients with osteoarthritis (OA), the cartilage is not replaced appropriately which leads to the gradual degeneration of the joint lining.

The imbalance between new cartilage production and natural degradation is thought to be the main problem of OA.

The body attempts to address the problem as the joint cartilage breaks down by initiating an inflammatory response to the joint which causes inflammation.

An Unpleasant Outcome

There is creation of new bone in the form of bone spurs to increase the surface area of the joint. Unfortunately, the body cannot replace the lost cartilage, and as a result, the painful condition of osteoarthritis develops.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons at Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute provide treatments for the knees, shoulders and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.

Treatment for Inflammation

Osteoarthritis treatment aims to control the inflammatory response and maximize the body’s ability to compensate for the damaged joint.

Treatments that aim to control swelling due to OA include:

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Anti-inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDs, are oral meds that manage the inflammation cycle. These drugs are available in the market under the trade names Naprosyn, Motrin, Celebrex, and others. These medications help reduce the inflammatory process as well as OA-related pain.

Cortisone Injections: Cortisone injections help control swelling. The body naturally produces this substance in the adrenal gland. Synthetic cortisone injections can help offer a very high dose of anti-inflammatory drugs directly to the compromised joint.

New and Revolutionary Treatments

There is continual research to better understand the process of OA and to create new treatment strategies to address this common condition. Promising new treatments include the following:

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

While the impact of taking glucosamine and chondroitin is under research, it is still not fully understood. As mentioned earlier, OA is considered to develop due to the insufficient production of new cartilage to replace old, degraded cartilage.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are some of the “building blocks” of cartilage. Some individuals contend that taking these supplements may help in the production of more cartilage.

While there has been a high level of enthusiasm, especially in the form of media and advertising, for this treatment, there is negligible research to actually support claims of an “arthritis cure.”

Medical professionals generally contend that these supplements may have an effect on OA, but it is not well understood at this time. But this treatment is known to be safe and may have some usefulness in the treatment of OA.

Synvisc

Synvisc is a substance known as hyaluronic acid (HA), which is a protein that is secreted by cartilage cells. HA is secreted into the joint and offers the joint fluid a viscous or slippery quality.

Some individuals believe that injecting HA into the knee replaces this crucial component of joint fluid. While long-term studies have yet to show any clear advantages of Synvisc in OA management, many patients believe in its positive impact.

Cartilage Transplant

Cartilage resurfacing and cartilage transplantation techniques are also new treatments of interest. These procedures are often used in patients with arthritis of the knee joint.

But these techniques have shown the best outcomes in patients who have only small areas of arthritis of the joint, instead of extensive cartilage degradation that is often seen in patients with osteoarthritis.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provide treatments for the knee, shoulder and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Osteoarthritis

The symptoms of osteoarthritis (OA) vary depending on which joints are impacted and how severely they are affected. But the most common symptoms of this condition are pain and stiffness, especially right after getting up in the morning or after resting.

The affected joints may get inflamed, particularly after extended activity. Rather than showing up suddenly, these symptoms tend to build-up over time.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provide treatments for the knee, shoulder, and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

Signs and Symptoms

Common osteoarthritis symptoms include:

Pain: The joint may hurt during or after movement.

Tenderness: The joint may feel tender when light pressure is applied to it.

Stiffness: The patient may experience the most joint stiffness when they wake up in the morning or after a period of being inactive.

Loss of Flexibility: The patient may not be able to move their joint through its complete range of motion.

Grating Sensation: The patient may hear or feel a grafting sensation when they use the joint.

Bone Spurs: These are extra bits of bone which feel like hard lumps and may develop around the impacted joint.

Patients who experience persistent joint pain or stiffness should consult with their doctor.

While it is often possible to effectively manage osteoarthritis symptoms, the underlying process cannot be reversed. The progression of the condition may slow down by staying active, maintaining a healthy weight and undergoing treatment.

Risk Factors

The risk of osteoarthritis development increases due to the following factors:

Family History

At times, osteoarthritis development depends on genetic predisposition. A person is more likely to develop OA if their parents or siblings have the condition. Researchers still do not understand why this condition runs in families. While no specific gene has been identified as the reason for OA development, genes may contribute to a higher risk.

Age

Osteoarthritis causes the degeneration of joints, and it becomes more common as people age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than one-third of adults over the age of 65 years have OA symptoms.

Gender

Osteoarthritis can impact men as well as women. The National Institutes of Health highlights that it is slightly more prevalent in men until the age of 45 years. After that, it occurs more commonly in women. This may be an indication of the different joint stressors that males and females experience at different ages.

Obesity

Being overweight is a contributory factor in OA development. The more a person weighs, the higher their risk of developing this condition. Excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints; the joints of the hips and knees are certainly among them. To build onto that, fat tissue generates proteins that may lead to harmful swelling in and around the joints.

Joint Injuries

Osteoarthritis risks may increase due to injuries that occur when playing sports or those sustained from an accident. In fact, even an injury sustained several years ago, and one that appears to have healed can increase OA risks.

Certain Occupations

People working in an occupation that creates repetitive stress on a specific joint may eventually develop OA.

Bone Deformities

Some individuals are born with defective cartilage or malformed joints. This may increase the risk of OA development.

Complications

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that becomes worse over time. The patient may experience severe joint pain and stiffness making even routine tasks difficult to perform. Some individuals may no longer be able to work. Doctors may recommend joint replacement surgery when joint pain is this severe.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, receive patients for knee, shoulder and other joint treatments from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease or degenerative arthritis, is the most commonly occurring chronic condition of the joints.

A Widespread Condition

It affects more than 25 million people in the United States. While OA can affect any joint, it usually develops in the lower back and neck, hips, the bases of the big toe and thumb, and the small joints of the fingers.

Normal joints comprise a taut, rubbery substance known as cartilage, which covers the end of every bone. Cartilage provides a smooth gliding surface for the movement of the joints and creates cushioning between the bones.

OA leads to cartilage disintegration, which causes pain, swelling, and problems in joint movement. This condition worsens over time leading to the disintegration of bones and development of growths (spurs).

In the final stages of OA, the wearing of cartilage causes the bone to rub against bone. This friction leads to joint damage as well as more pain.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons at Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute provide treatments for the knees, shoulders and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

Who is Affected?

OA can develop in individuals of any age, but it most commonly occurs in people above the age of 65 years. The common risk factors for OA development are increasing age, previous joint injury, weak thigh muscles, obesity, joint overuse, and genetic predisposition.

  • One in two adults will experience knee OA symptoms within their lifetime
  • One in four adults will experience hip OA symptoms by the age of 85 years
  • One in 12 people 60 years or above have hand OA

Treatments

Pain and Anti-inflammatory Medications

OA drugs are available as pills, syrups, creams, or lotions, or they are injected into the joint. These medications include:

Analgesics

Analgesics are pain relievers, and they comprise acetaminophen, opioids (narcotics), and an atypical opioid known as tramadol. These drugs are available OTC or by prescription.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

These are the most commonly used medications to resolve inflammation and associated pain. Ibuprofen, aspirin, celecoxib, and naproxen are some common NSAIDs. These medications are available OTC or by prescription.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs, which are either taken orally or injected directly into a joint by a medical professional.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) refers to a substance that occurs naturally within the joint fluid. It is a lubricant as well as a shock absorber. However, HA seems to break down in people with OA. HA injections are administered at the physician’s office.

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Physical and occupational therapists offer various treatment options to manage the pain associated with OA, including:

  • Range of motion and flexibility exercises
  • Techniques to use joints properly
  • Heat and cold therapies
  • Assistive devices

Assistive devices provide patients with mobility and function. These devices include walkers, canes, splints, scooters, and shoe orthotics along with useful tools such as jar openers, long-handled shoe horns, or steering wheel grips.

Medical supply stores and pharmacies stock many these types of devices. But some items, such as custom knee braces and shoe wedges are prescribed by a doctor. A physical or occupational therapist helps people fit these types of items and so on.

Natural and Alternative Therapies

To enhance their well-being and for symptomatic relief, many OA patients use natural or alternative therapies. Some such therapies include massage, acupuncture or acupressure, nutritional supplements, and hydrotherapy and relaxation techniques.

Surgery

Severely compromised joints will require joint surgery to replace or repair the joint, especially knee and hip joints. A physician will refer joint surgery candidates to an orthopedic surgeon.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler, provide treatments for the knee, shoulder and other joints to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms And Complications | Las VegasRheumatoid arthritis can be a debilitating condition, if the patient ignores the symptoms or develops complications. Appropriate and timely medical intervention is important for RA.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide treatments for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms in the Joints

RA almost always impacts the joints, and it may be a few weeks or months before the initial symptoms manifest. The swelling that occurs due to RA leads to classic symptoms such as:

Stiffness

The patient finds it hard to use the joint, and it does not move as well as it did previously. This usually occurs in the morning. Many other types of arthritis lead to stiff joints in the morning. However, it takes people with RA more than an hour, sometimes several hours, before their joints feel loose.

Swelling

The fluid in the joint causes it to become puffy and tender.

Pain

Swelling within a joint makes it painful whether the patient moves it or not. This can lead to damage and pain over time.

Redness and Warmth

The joints may be warmer and display changes in color related to the swelling.

 

Symptoms that Impact the Skin

Sometimes people with RA develop rheumatoid nodules as well. These are bumps beneath the skin. They are usually not painful and move easily upon touching.

Rheumatoid nodules usually appear on the elbows but may also develop in other bony areas such as:

  • The underside of the forearm
  • The back of the head
  • The base of the spine
  • The Achilles tendon
  • The tendons in the hand

 

What RA Does to the Heart and Lungs

RA can cause damage to the lungs or inflammation in the lining surrounding the lungs. This condition is known as pleurisy. While there may be no symptoms, the patient may notice shortness of breath. The doctor can address pleurisy with medications that ease the swelling in the lungs.  

Similarly, RA can lead to swelling in the lining around the heart (known as pericarditis) or heart muscle (known as myocarditis). The patient will likely not notice any symptoms but may experience chest pain or shortness of breath, in which case they should contact their doctor. This condition can increase the chances of stroke, heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.

 

RA and the Eyes

RA commonly causes the following eye problems:

Cataracts: This condition causes a clouding of the lens in the eye affecting the vision.

Dry eye syndrome: The eye cannot produce a healthy tear film causing dry eyes.

Scleritis: Swelling and redness in the white portion of the eye.

 

Other Body Parts RA Can Impact

Bones: The chemicals that lead to inflammation can also affect the bones. The hips and spine are usually affected. At times, it is a side effect of years of steroid use in the treatment of RA.

Liver and kidneys: RA affects the liver and kidneys only in rare cases. However, the medications that treat RA can affect these organs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can have a negative impact on both the liver and kidneys. Cyclosporine can lead to kidney disease. Methotrexate can cause liver damage.

Immune system: RA drugs can make the immune system sluggish. This can increase the patient’s susceptibility to getting infections.

Mucous membranes: The patient will be more likely to experience a condition known as Sjogren’s syndrome which dries out moist places in the body such as the mouth, eyes, and inside the nose.

Muscles: The attached muscles get weak when the inflammation prevents a person from moving their joints. Or the patient may develop a condition known as myositis that weakens the muscles. The RA drugs that a patient takes may be a reason for muscle weakening.

Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler, receives patients for orthopedic surgery from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

When to see an orthopedic doctor for Rheumatoid Arthritis | Las VegasEvery person affected with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) experiences slightly different symptoms.

Some patients may have only a few or no symptoms for long periods while others may experience symptoms for months at a stretch in an aggravation of the disease activity known as a flare.

A majority of patients have persistent issues with bouts of worsening of the condition. But there are dramatic changes in the situation due to innovative and earlier treatment. An increasing number of people are now experiencing low disease activity or even remission.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide treatments for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding locations.

 

RA Symptoms in the Joints

RA is a disorder that almost always impacts the joints. The initial signs may take a few weeks or months to surface. The swelling associated with RA causes classic symptoms such as:

Stiffness

The patient finds it harder to use the joint, and it does not move properly. This situation is common in the morning. People with other types of arthritis also experience stiff joints in the morning. However, it takes people with RA over an hour, at times several hours, before the joint feels loose.

Swelling

The joint becomes puffy and tender due to the presence of fluid.

Pain

Swelling inside a joint cause it to hurt whether the patient is moving it or not. This can lead to damage and pain over time.

Redness and Warmth

The joints may be warmer and display color changes related to the swelling.

 

What Joints Does RA Affect?

RA typically initiates in the hands. However, it can impact any joint, including:

RA patients notice a symmetrical pattern. It manifests in the same joints on either side of the body, such as both hips or both wrists.

While not a frequent occurrence, RA can also impact a joint in the voice box making the patient’s voice hoarse.

 

Whole-Body Symptoms

Other than the symptoms in the joints, RA can also cause:

  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Poor appetite
  • Bad all over (doctors refer to this as malaise)

Anemia or a deficiency of healthy red blood cells can be a reason for extreme fatigue. The doctor will examine this as an element of the RA diagnosis.

Some of these symptoms can also be a result of depression. It is hard to live with a chronic condition like RA. The patient should consult their doctor if they feel they may be experiencing RA symptoms.

The patient should reach out to their doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms. Gradual onset of the pain and stiffness could indicate the initial stages of RA, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic disease.

If the pain manifests quickly and is accompanied by fever, the patient may have infectious arthritis. If there is no fever, the patient may be developing gout (usually in the big toe) or pseudogout.

The patient may experience pain and stiffness in their legs, arms, or back after sitting for short durations or after getting up in the morning. This may be an indication of the onset of RA, osteoarthritis, or another arthritic condition.

A child with juvenile RA may display symptoms such as pain or a rash in the wrists, knees, and ankles, or experience fever swings, weight loss, and poor appetite.

Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler, receives patients for orthopedic surgery from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatments | Las VegasRheumatoid arthritis (RA) treatment goals include inflammation control, pain relief, and reducing the disability associated with the disorder. In general, the treatment includes drugs, physical or occupational therapy, and regular exercise.

Some patients may require a surgical procedure to address joint damage. The key to good outcomes is early and aggressive treatment. The advanced treatment options available today can slow down, or in many cases, stop the progression of RA.

Board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Steven C. Thomas and Dr. Gregory T. Bigler provide treatments for the knee and shoulder to patients in Las Vegas, Nevada, and surrounding communities.

 

Drugs for Rheumatoid Arthritis

NSAIDs

The doctor will likely prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) as a part of the RA treatment plan. While these drugs can provide pain relief and address swelling, they cannot slow down the progression of RA. Therefore, patients with moderate to severe RA will probably need to take other medications to prevent further damage to the joints.

DMARDs

“DMARDs” is the acronym for disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs. These medications slow or stop RA from becoming worse.

Doctors typically first prescribe methotrexate to treat RA. In case that alone does not adequately calm the swelling, doctors may try or add another type of DMARD. Other types of DMARDs include leflunomide (Arava), hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine).

RA involves an overactive immune system attacking the joints and other body parts. While DMARDs can control the immune system, they are not selective in identifying their targets. This may cause an infection and various other side effects.

DMARDs, especially methotrexate, are a very effective treatment for severe RA and they may help save the joints.

Biologics

The doctor may prescribe a biologic when methotrexate or other DMARDs are unable to relieve RA symptoms and swelling. Biologics are genetically engineered proteins.

They block specific areas of the immune system that are responsible for the swelling associated with RA. Biologics may slow or stop RA. Different biologics are used to target different regions of the brain.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery

Patients experiencing unbearable joint pain and swelling or severely damaged joints may require joint replacement surgery. The most commonly replaced joints are the knees and hips, and at times, the shoulders.

Surgery can provide dramatic pain relief and mobility. A majority of patients wait for joint replacement surgery until after the age of 50 as artificial joint tend to wear down in a span of 15 to 20 years.

Artificial replacement is not very effective for certain joints, such as the ankles, which fare better with another surgery known as joint fusion.

 

Physical and Occupational Therapy

Physical and occupational therapy can make a vital difference in the patient’s day-to-day life. They are an integral part of any RA treatment plan.

Physical therapists can provide the patient with an exercise plan, explain how to use heat and ice, perform therapeutic massage, and motivate the patient.

Occupational therapists can help the patient manage their daily tasks, such as cooking or working on a computer, in an easier manner. Furthermore, they can recommend any gadgets that may help the patient.

Thomas & Bigler Knee & Shoulder Institute, led by board certified orthopedic surgeons Dr. Thomas and Dr. Bigler, receives patients for orthopedic surgery from Las Vegas, Nevada, and nearby areas.

If you would like to schedule an appointment or learn more about the Knee and Shoulder Institute procedures & treatments performed by Las Vegas, Nevada board-certified surgeons Steven C. Thomas, MD and Gregory T. Bigler, MD. Contact the office today click here.