What Exactly Is Arthritis?

Article featured on Movement Orthopedics

“Arthritis” is used to describe joint pain and inflammation. There are many different types of arthritis. It can occur at any joint in the body, including the hip, knee, and shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand, as well as the foot and ankle. It most often occurs in the hands, hips, and knees.

Arthritis tends to cause pain, swelling, and stiffness in the affected joint.

The most common types of arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis – a wear-and-tear type of arthritis in which the cartilage cushioning the ends of your bones begins to wear away. This ultimately leads to bone-on-bone friction, which is what causes the pain and swelling associated with arthritic joints. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, and the condition gets progressively worse over time. This is by far the most common type of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – considered an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the synovial membrane that­­ lines and lubricates joints, causing the membrane to become inflamed. This can lead to deterioration of cartilage and bone at the joint.
  • Gout – another very common type of arthritis. In this case, a build-up of uric acid in the blood (often due to a purine-rich diet that includes foods like red meat, organ meat, scallops, tuna, or sardines) causes sharp crystals to collect at the joints. This results in pain, swelling, redness, and heat – typically occurring in one joint at a time. ­

Who Is Prone to Arthritis?

Those who may be at an increased risk of developing arthritis include:

  • Older adults – symptomatic osteoarthritis is estimated to affect nearly 10% of men and 20% of women over the age of 60.
  • Athletes – active people, whether young or old, face an increased risk of arthritis developing after an injury to a joint, although anyone with a joint injury is more likely to develop arthritis, which is called post-traumatic arthritis.
  • Obese adults – added stress on the joints can make the wearing away of cartilage occur faster.

Treating Arthritis

There are numerous conservative methods used to treat symptomatic arthritis, including:

  • Medications (prescription and over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or pain relievers)
  • Physical therapy that includes strengthening the muscles around the joint
  • Pain-relieving injections like cortisone shots or viscosupplementation for knee osteoarthritis
  • Activity modification to reduce the strain on your arthritic joint
  • Assistive devices, such as using bracing or a cane

Lifestyle approaches that can help include weight loss and engaging in regular, joint-friendly exercise, such as swimming, bicycling, walking, or dancing.

Your Surgical Options

Should conservative measures fail to relieve your symptoms, or if these measures stop working for you, the orthopedic specialists at Movement Orthopedics are experts in the use state-of-the-art surgical techniques to help you return to your usual activities, free from the pain of arthritis.

In many cases, this may mean minimally invasive joint replacement, reconstruction, or repair – including robotic-assisted surgery – to improve your mobility and decrease pain and inflammation.


New Mexico Orthopaedics is a multi-disciplinary orthopedic clinic located in Albuquerque New Mexico. We have multiple physical therapy clinics located throughout the Albuquerque metro area.

New Mexico Orthopaedics offers a full spectrum of services related to orthopedic care and our expertise ranges from acute conditions such as sports injuries and fractures to prolonged, chronic care diagnoses, including total joint replacement and spinal disorders.

Because our team of highly-trained physicians specialize in various aspects of the musculoskeletal system, our practice has the capacity to treat any orthopedic condition, and offer related support services, such as physical therapy, WorkLink and much more.

If you need orthopedic care in Albuquerque New Mexico contact New Mexico Orthopaedics at 505-724-4300.