Bass: Specialist care is best medicine for arthritis

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2015

Having constant trouble with swollen, aching joints? It’s time to see a specialist.
The top cause of joint pain and inflammation is arthritis, and seeking the right treatment can prevent a lifetime of pain, Phillip Bass, a registered nurse who is the patient navigator for River Region Medical Center’s joint and mobility program told the Vicksburg Kiwanis this week.
“Seeing a physician who knows how to diagnose the cause of your pain is most important. General practitioners are like the general contractor whenever you’re getting a house done. But whenever it comes time to make sure your wiring is done right, you want an electrician,” Bass said.
For most people, minor arthritis pain means popping over the counter analgesics like Tylenol or Aleve, but over a long period of time, those drugs pose dangers. And left untreated, arthritis can before more severe.
“Sometimes it seems like a long winding road, but getting a proper diagnosis and proper treatment can really save you a lot in the end.”
There are more than 100 types of arthritis, but the most common is osteoarthritis, which can be caused by overuse of a joint or injury.
“Your knees, hips, hands and back are most often effected by osteoarthritis,” Bass said.
With osteoarthritis, cartilage begins to wear down and eventually disintegrates, leaving bones rubbing against each other.
“It can be caused by overuse and injury, but it doesn’t have to be,” Bass said.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory disorder that typically affects and deforms the small joints in a person’s hands and feet, Bass said.
Unlike the damage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis affects the lining of the joints, causing a painful swelling.
“All those are systems of arthritis,” Bass said.
One of the easiest ways to relieve minor arthritis pain is exercise, Bass said. The common misconception is that exercise will make arthritis pain worse, but it keeps joints limber, he said.
“Whenever you get still and don’t move around, you get stiff, even a normal healthy person,” Bass said.
A few exercises Bass recommends are walking, swimming, bicycling and water aerobics.
Regardless of what the treatment is that works find it and relish the effects, Bass said.
“It doesn’t have to be surgery, but nobody deserves to live a life of pain,” he said.

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