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Arthritis is one of the most common chronic health problems in the U.S. today.

Arthritis and chronic joint symptoms affect nearly 50 million Americans and that number is expected to increase as the population ages.  Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease and one of the leading causes of disability says Dr. Anne Miller, assistant professor and chief of rheumatology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.  She explains how the disease can affect people.

SOUND BITE:  “Symptoms of osteoarthritis are those of pain, stiffness, particularly after immobility and worsening of symptoms through the day.  The type of swelling that a person notes in an osteoarthritic joint is a bony swelling as opposed to a mushy soft swelling, which would be more typical of the inflammatory arthritis such as rheumutoid.” 

Osteoarthritis can affect most joints of a person’s body, especially the knees and hips.  Dr. Miller suggests that strengthening exercises, swimming and losing weight can be helpful.  She explains other treatment options.

SOUND BITE:  “The treatment of osteoarthritis depends on how severe the symptoms are.  Early on, we’re using simple measures – Tylenol, rest, and with time we go into stronger anti-inflammatory medications, a little bit stronger pain reliever, injections of steroids into the joints.  Surgery is usually a last resort . . .”

Anyone experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis should see their primary care physician for evaluation and possible treatment.   If the condition is severe, they may be referred to a rheumatologist.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.