Healthy Living

Ask Dr. Onuorah: What is Arthritis?

Jan 29 2024

There may be some questions you don’t want to ask your doctor. You may be too embarrassed, feel silly asking it or you may not even know you have a question to ask.

We get it.

That’s where “Ask a Doc” comes in – no question is too big and no question is too small. In this installment of Ask a Doc, we’re answering some common, maybe slightly embarrassing questions you have surrounding arthritis.

**Disclaimer: While helpful, Ask a Doc is not a substitute for seeking medical advice. Always consult your doctor before attempting treatment or diagnosing a medical condition.

Hi, Dr. Nneoma Kate-Joan Onuorah:

What is arthritis?

“Plain and simple – arthritis is when your joints swell and become tender. The most common symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, but the causes can vary.

The two main types – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – damage the joints in different ways. Osteoarthritis occurs when wear and tear on the cartilage results in bones directly grinding on one another. While you can naturally develop this as you age, joint injury or infection can bring it on quicker.

On the flip side, rheumatoid arthritis is caused when the immune system attacks the joints, inflaming the lining and breaking down the cartilage and bone within.”

Why is arthritis common in elderly people?

“Think about your body like a car – the older the car, no matter how well maintained, the higher the chance of issues arising. So, a lifetime of stress on the joints eventually can lead to them breaking down and developing arthritis.”

Can arthritis be cured?

“Not exactly. Arthritis itself can’t be cured, but methods to treat it are so much better than they used to be even 20 years ago. Unless your case is pretty advanced, arthritis treatments commonly include using physical therapy and medication for reducing pain associated with it and improving your quality of life.”

Do arthritis bracelets or gloves actually work?

“Arthritis gloves or bracelets may possibly relieve pain, but they have not been proven to affect the course of arthritis, nor do they stop joint destruction or heal the damage that has occurred.”

Is arthritis hereditary?

“Well, there are lots of common types of arthritis – some of which are hereditary. But generally, yes, you’re more likely to have the disorder if your parents did. Other risk factors can include your age, gender, if you’ve had previous joint injuries and obesity.”

Will arthritis show up on an X-ray?

“Yep! That’s usually your best bet for seeing if arthritis already exists in your joints.”

Anything else you want people to know about arthritis?

“Just that treatment really is lightyears ahead of where it used to be. Don’t put off seeking treatment if you’re uncomfortable, go talk to your doctor – it’s what we’re here for.”

Learn about the rheumatology services we provide at Mercy Health.

Related Posts

Please review our Terms of Use before commenting.