Arthritis Management

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Arthritis Management

As a leading orthopedic physician in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, Dr. Howard has expertise in treating several types of arthritis in any age patient. Arthritis causes joint inflammation and can be a painful obstacle to athletic activity for athletes and active individuals. Proper treatment by a specialist will get you moving swiftly and teach you how to manage the condition

Dr. Howard will examine the joint in question and conduct an interview to determine your pain levels, stiffness, etc. To identify bone spurs or calcium deposits, an X-ray can be taken; this will also determine the severity of the condition to assess appropriate treatment.

Arthritis is a condition that causes inflamed joints. There are several different types of arthritis with varying causes and symptoms; the most common type is osteoarthritis, which is caused by general wear and tear on the joints. Arthritis can affect joints in different areas of the body, including hips, knees, hands, feet, and the spine. Symptoms commonly include joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and sometimes malformation.

Arthritis can affect people of all ages, and the type of arthritis impacts those most likely to develop it. Osteoarthritis typically affects individuals with over 40 years of age, however it can affect younger individuals as well. You can be more susceptible to developing arthritis if you’ve experienced traumatic injuries, joint dislocation, or fractures. Some types of arthritis, such as thumb arthritis, are more common in women, and some are due to genetic factors or autoimmune diseases.

The most common types of arthritis include:

Osteoarthritis: Also known as degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent form of arthritis, typically occurring in older aged individuals. It develops when cartilage, the protective tissue within your joints, starts to wear away over time, even wearing out completely in some severe cases. Without this cartilage, bone-to-bone contact occurs within the joints, which can be painful and make joint movement more difficult. Sometimes this can even cause bones to stick or bulge out of the end of joint, known as a bone spur. Due to the reduction in motion capabilities, osteoarthritis can cause disability or complete loss of movement, usually when it occurs at the knees, hips, or spine.

Post-traumatic arthritis: This refers to arthritis that develops after a traumatic injury, such as a sprain, fracture, or ligament tear. Similar to osteoarthritis, it involves the wearing or damage of cartilage that can cause pain and reduce movement capabilities. Post-traumatic arthritis can develop many years after the trauma occurred.

Rheumatoid Arthritis: Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. This means the body’s immune system attacks healthy tissues, organs, and joints, causing inflammation within the synovium, or joint lining.Symptoms typically include joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and reduced movement. In severe cases, the joints may deform or change shape. Most often, it affects joints in the hands and feet, and is the only symmetrical form of arthritis. This means that symptoms are typically felt in the same joints on either side of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly occurs in women ages 15-45; women are 2-3 times more likely to have the disease than men.

Psoriatic arthritis: This can occur in some individuals with psoriasis, a disorder causing scaly skin, and usually affects joints in the ends of fingers and toes. Changes in fingernails and toenails can be present, and some cases may affect the spine, causing back pain.

There are a few different treatment options for arthritis, which depend on the type and severity of the condition:

Non-surgical treatment: Methods for relieving pain in an arthritic joint include activity modification, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), topical creams and rubs, physical therapy, pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), use of braces or canes, hyaluronic acid injections, and steroid injections. Surgery is usually considered if non-surgical treatment fails to give relief. There are different surgical procedures that can be used and may include:

Debridement: This surgery is usually indicated for early cases of inflammatory arthritis where there is significant swelling (synovitis) that is causing pain or is limiting the range of motion. Debridement is a surgical removal of the inflamed synovium (tissue lining the joint) and bone spurs. The procedure is often performed using arthroscopy.

Arthroplasty (Replacement): This surgery involves removing the affected joint completely and inserting an artificial replacement. This is one of the most effective treatments for relieving symptoms like pain and stiffness. The drawback of arthroplasty is that it is a major operation; location of the joint has a large impact on operation risks and recovery time.

Arthrodesis: This procedure involves joint removal followed by bone fusion via metal wires, plates, or screws. This is typically only done on the spine when the arthritis condition is severe. An individual may undergo arthrodesis if the joints are extremely damaged, mobility is extremely limited, a previous arthroplasty failed, and the individual expects intense manual use of the joints.

Following diagnosis, Dr. Howard will discuss the best treatment options with you.


If you receive a surgical operation, you will undergo a rehabilitation program with a physical therapist to aid in your recovery. Through simple physical exercises, you will regain strength and movement as well as see a disappearance in pain and swelling from the surgery.