The staff at the Arthritis Centers of Texas have compiled these frequently asked questions to help answer some important questions that you may have about arthritis. For more information or to set up an appointment, please contact us at (214) 580-3630 or by filling out our online contact form.
What is arthritis?
The term “arthritis” refers to more than 100 different diseases. Arthritis usually affects the area around our
joints (thus “arthr” – meaning joint and “itis” – meaning inflammation), but it can also affect other parts of the body.
What is Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) typically manifests as a chronic inflammation of the lining of the joints. However, since
RA is a systemic disease it can affect other parts of the body in addition to joints.
Do we know what causes Rheumatoid Arthritis?
No, the exact cause of RA is not known. We do know that it is an inflammatory process that is triggered when a person's immune
system mistakes healthy tissue for an outside invader and attacks it. This is why RA is often referred to as an autoimmune disease.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Much like RA, Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition affecting the joints. OA is characterized by the breakdown of cartilage
in the joints. As the cartilage breaks down, the bones in the joint rub against each other resulting in pain and loss of movement.
Do we know what causes Osteoarthritis?
As is the case with RA, we do not know the cause of the disease, though many factors such as age, genetics, obesity, and injury
are known to have a role in developing the disease.
How does Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis differ?
RA is a disease triggered by an abnormal immune system response. The body is, in effect, attacking itself. Osteoarthritis is the
result of “wear and tear” on the joints. This is usually the result of aging or other breakdown of cartilage associated with
injury, obesity, heredity, or other risk factor.
Who gets arthritis?
Amazingly, one in seven Americans can expect to have arthritis. Although arthritis is typically thought of as an “old person's
disease”, the fact is that arthritis can affect people of any age.
Does cracking my knuckles cause arthritis?
While there is no known direct connection between cracking one's knuckles and having arthritis, there is a measure of truth to
this old tale. Repeated injury to a joint can injure cartilage and potentially lead to osteoarthritis.
What are some of the symptoms of arthritis?
Since there are so many “types” of arthritis, the list of symptoms is extensive. However, some of the more common symptoms
include painful joints, stiff joints, red or swollen joints, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, low-grade fever, general muscle pain, loss
of appetite, and depression.
Can I alter my diet and prevent arthritis?
With the exception of Gout, there is no hard evidence that diet can prevent or cure arthritis. That being said, since obesity is
a risk factor for developing arthritis, it is important to eat a healthy diet and to get regular exercise so as to avoid being overweight.
What role, if any, does stress have in people with arthritis?
Immunologists have discovered that stress in one's life does have a negative impact on the functioning of the immune
system. Therefore, it is generally felt that individuals with RA should seek to reduce the amount of stress in their lives.
Is it true that there is a link between Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis?
Yes, individuals diagnosed with RA are at increased risk for osteoporosis. Medications used in the treatment of RA can result in
significant bone loss. Also, people with RA tend to be less active, which is a risk factor for developing osteoporosis.