Downtown Pain Physicians

Arthritis Treatment Specialists in Brooklyn

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Arthritis Pain Management | Downtown Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan

Our award-winning pain management doctors at Downtown Pain Physicians offer arthritis pain relief to our patients in Lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.

Injection therapies are safe, minimally invasive procedures that can provide pain management and lasting relief for weeks, months or years. Prompt diagnosis of the area and a targeted treatment allow you to return to normal activity in a short period of time. In most cases, our treatments avoid invasive surgery for the patient.

What you should know about arthritis

Arthritis is an autoimmune condition that leads to an inflammation of joints such as knees, hips, and shoulders. At first, the symptoms of arthritis are rather minor and they tend to come and go. They typically affect both sides of the body at first and begin to process within a couple of weeks or months. The symptoms of this chronic and autoimmune condition can vary from one individual to another, and can even change from one day to another. When arthritis symptoms occur, they are known as flare-ups, but there are also inactive periods, when the symptoms aren‘t as noticeable, which is another known as remission.

What are the early warning signs of arthritis?

Fatigue.

At first, it is normal for patients to feel tired. This is typically the first sign of arthritis before all other symptoms become obvious. Fatigue can show up weeks or months before other symptoms begin. Fatigue can come and go from week to week or from day today. It is sometimes connected to a general feeling of being ill or by feeling depression.

Morning stiffness.

Morning stiffness is another early sign of arthritis. It typically lasts for a couple of minutes and it can worsen over time if it is not treated properly. Stiffness might also last for a couple of hours and can e generally a symptom of inflammatory arthritis. This stiffness might also be felt after sitting or napping for long periods of time. It might affect one small joint, but it is also likely to affect several smaller joints. In most cases, the pain is first felt on the hands, but might slowly progress and affect other areas of the body as well.

Joint tenderness.

People who suffer from joint stiffness also often experience joint tenderness and pain while they move or while they rest. This symptom can affect both sides of the body equally. In early cases of arthritis, pain is mostly felt on the:

  • wrist
  • fingers
  • knees
  • feet
  • shoulders
  • ankles
Mild inflammation of the joints.

As it is still in its beginning stage, a warning sign of arthritis is a mild inflammation of the joints. This leads to a milder swelling, which however can be noted. Your joints will appear to be bigger than normal and you might also feel the warmth of the joints. At first, flare-ups will begin to last within a couple of days and up to a couple of weeks. This pattern is expected to get worse and to increase with time.

Low-grade fever.

When the joints are inflamed and hurt, it is also very possible that people suffer from low-grade fever. This is also an early warning sign for those who suffer from arthritis. If you have a higher fever than 100°F (38°C), it is more likely that you might be suffering from another type of infection or illness.

Tingling and numbness.

As inflammation of the tendons leads to pressure being put on the nerves, an early warning sign of arthritis can be tingling, numbness, and a burning feeling in the hands. This is often referred to as carpal tunnel syndrome and is caused by damaged cartilage, which grinds against the joints whenever you move.

Difficulty bending or straightening.

As the joints are inflamed, the tendons and ligaments can become unstable and deformed. The condition progresses, leading to patients being unable to straighten or bend some specific joints. This means, that your range of motion will be affected by the condition, which is also an early sign of this autoimmune and chronic illness. It is very important to engage in regular and gentle exercise, even if it is painful, as this will help to prevent the condition from worsening.

Other signs of arthritis.

Apart from the above-mentioned symptoms, arthritis, in its early stages, can be accompanied by other signs as well, such as:

  • dry mouth
  • eye discharge
  • difficulty sleeping
  • dry eyes
  • itchy or inflamed eyes
  • chest pain while breathing
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • hard bumps of tissue under the skin on the arms

If you experience any of these early symptoms of arthritis, it is very important that you go and see a doctor to get the proper diagnosis.

What happens once the condition progresses?

Loss of mobility.

With time, the condition will worsen and begin to affect other parts of the body as well, which includes the:

  • ankles
  • knees
  • hips
  • wrists
  • elbows
  • shoulders
  • ribcage
  • spaces between the vertebrae in the spine

When the condition is left untreated, it can lead to long-term damage to the joints. The bones may begin to fuse together, or fibrous tissue might form around the joints. This can lead to deformity and loss of mobility. Once this occurs, the quality of your life can be greatly affected.

What are some other complications of arthritis?

If arthritis is left untreated, it can lead to some serious complications, which can develop in the major organs of the body. This includes the:

  • heart
  • lungs
  • kidneys
  • skin

The skin is affected by arthritis, as it can cause blisters and lumps on the tissues under the skin, known as nodules.

The heart is affected by arthritis, as it can spread to the blood vessels, causing a narrowing of such vessels. When the vessels are narrowed, it can cause blockages and clots in the smaller blood vessels and the arteries.

All these blockages can lead to an increased risk of suffering from a heart attack or a stroke.

Other complications of arthritis that affect the heart include pericarditis, which is a condition where the membrane surrounding the heart gets inflamed.

The lungs can be affected by untreated arthritis as well. Some issues of the lungs include long-term inflammation, which can lead to:

  • chronic coughing
  • fatigue
  • difficulties breathing

Nodules may appear in the lungs, just as they appear under the skin. If such nodules of the lungs rupture, it may cause a collapse of the lung. When arthritis is left untreated, it can also cause pleural disease. It is an inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the lungs. Patients who suffer from this condition might also have difficulties breathing and experience pain.

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Living with arthritis pain can interfere with your ability to do day-to-day tasks or enjoy your life to the fullest. It can even interrupt your sleep, and chronic pain can cause depression. That’s why a visit to Downtown Pain Physicians and managing your arthritis pain is so important.

Osteoarthritis vs rheumatoid arthritis

Arthritis is a term used to describe a condition, in which the joints are inflamed. There are different kinds of joint inflammations and arthritis is divided, amongst others, in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Both these conditions affect the joints, but they are very different types of this condition. While rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition, osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition.

An autoimmune disorder means that it is the body that is attacking itself. Rheumatoid arthritis is when your body sees the lining around the joints as a threat. The body considers it to be a virus or a bacteria and starts attacking it, although it shouldn’t be doing so. This attack is what causes fluid to accumulate within the joint. This fluid buildup leads not only to swelling but also to pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the area around the joints.

Osteoarthritis, which is the most common type of arthritis, is as previously mentioned, a degenerative joint disorder. This means that it comes to a breakdown of the cartilage, which has the function of working as a cushion around the joints. When this cartilage starts to wear down, the bones start to rub against each other, which leads to pain. Osteoarthritis doesn’t involve an autoimmune process like it is the case in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms that apply to both of these conditions include pain in the joints, stiff joints, a limited range of motion, a feeling of warmth or tenderness in the affected area, or increased intensity of the symptoms in the morning time.

What are the characteristics of rheumatoid arthritis?

Just like other arthritis types, there are characteristics when it comes to symptoms, which apply only o rheumatoid arthritis. As it is a systemic disease, rheumatoid arthritis can affect the entire body, including the lungs, heart, and eyes. IT doesn’t always necessarily affect the joints only. Some symptoms that can present themselves in the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis are a low-grade fever, especially in younger rheumatoid arthritis patients, muscle aches, and being excessively fatigued.

In advanced stages of rheumatoid arthritis, patients might be able to notice the forming of hard lumps underneath the skin, in the area near the joints. These lumps are known as rheumatoid nodules and they can feel tender.

What are the characteristics of osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis rarely ever presents itself with symptoms that affect other areas, apart from the affected joints. In some cases, patients develop lumps under the skin in the area near the affected joints, however, these lumps are different from the rheumatoid nodules. People who have osteoarthritis usually develop bone spurs, or excessive bone growth right at the edges of the joints that are affected. There’s also fatigue present, which leads to patients first having to undergo other tests for other conditions which are known to cause fatigue, such as issues with the thyroid gland or HIV. It is usually only when the joint paint starts, that both patients and medical professionals can start thinking of arthritis as a possible cause behind the symptoms.

Which joints are most affected?

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are usually known to affect different kinds of joints. Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts to affect smaller joints; such as finger joints. This leads to pain, stiffness, and swelling in the finger joints and as rheumatoid arthritis starts to progress, the symptoms may move to larger joints, such as the knees, shoulders, and ankles. Rheumatoid arthritis is also an asymmetrical disease and the symptoms are likely to be experienced on both sides of the body at the same time.

Osteoarthritis is not as symmetrical, and while pain might be felt on both sides, it is usually worse on only one side of the body. Osteoarthritis is also common in the hand and finger joints, but more often, it affects joints of the spine and the hips, in addition to the knees.

How is rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis diagnosed?

To diagnose both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, doctors will perform a physical exam, ask about your medical history and different kinds of diagnostic tests will be necessary as well. As the symptoms of these two conditions often overlap, it might be a real challenge to diagnose them, especially in the early stages of the condition.

Blood tests are done to exclude rheumatoid arthritis or to diagnose it, as it is a condition that can be visible in blood tests, due to the biomarkers it leaves in the blood. Some of these biomarkers are the cyclic citrullinated peptide antibody and the rheumatoid factor.

Medical professionals are also looking at levels of the C-reactive protein antibody, which when abnormal, indicate that there is an inflammation. In some cases, it might also be necessary to get imaging tests, such as:

  • X-Rays
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound scans
Imaging tests help to determine how much damage there is and where the damage of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis is.

Common treatment options

When it comes to treating rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, the main goal is to help patients minimize the pain, improve mobility and function while trying to keep the damage of the joints as less as possible. To reach these goals, different approaches are available and it all depends on which of the two conditions you have, as well as your own individual health state.

Some medications are effective for both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These are anti-inflammatory medications and corticosteroid medications. People who have rheumatoid arthritis may also need drugs that suppress the immune system, as a way of trying to stop your body from further attacking the joints and preventing further damage to the joints.

 

Read more about the recovery process after RFA for Arthritis here. Call us to find out about your options for treatment of your pain condition.

What is the outlook for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis?

There is no way of completely curing rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. There are however different types of treatment, which are able to help patients better manage the symptoms of these conditions. If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, you should get this checked out by pain medicine doctors at Downtown Pain Physicians.

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    My experience has been great! The doctors are knowledgeable. They listen to my concerns and questions and always give great feedback. Sofia at the front desk is so pleasant and super helpful.

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    “AMAZING AND THOROUGH”

    Amazing and thorough! I did not feel rushed at all. Dr. Raval answered all my questions and we easily came up with a treatment plan for my issue.

Do you have any questions about Arthritis Pain Management? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the best pain relief doctors? Please contact our pain relief clinic for a consultation with our rehabilitation specialists located in Downtown Brooklyn or Lower Manhattan.

This page was published on Dec 13, 2019, modified on Jul 7, 2021 by Dr. Raj Raval, MD (Pain Management Doctor)
DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

The information on this website is to provide general information. In no way does any of the information provided reflect definitive treatment advice. It is essential to consult a best-in-class pain management specialist in New York regarding ANY questions or issues. A thorough evaluation should ALWAYS be performed for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Be sure to call your pain doctor to schedule a consultation.

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  • Dr. Raj Raval, M.D.

    1. Board Certified
    2. Interventional Pain & Musculoskeletal Medicine Specialist
  • Education & training

    1. SUNY Downstate PMR Residency
    2. Rutgers University Fellowship
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