Arthritis Care and Treatment
Why Choose Treatment for Arthritis at University of Colorado Hospital?
At University of Colorado Hospital, we design individual treatment plans to meet your unique needs and the type of arthritis affecting your day-to-day activities.
Our medical practitioners have access to the most advanced technology, and they provide treatment based on current evidence-based research.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a general term that refers to a group of more than 100 conditions that cause pain, swelling and stiffness of the joints.
Arthritis is loosely grouped into two main categories:
- Non-inflammatory arthritis
- Inflammatory arthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common type of non-inflammatory arthritis. In this type of arthritis, the cartilage that cushions bones wears down. It usually affects the knees, hips, lower back, neck and small joints of the fingers. Risk factors for osteoarthritis include injury to a joint, being overweight, and having a family history of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common type of inflammatory arthritis. It is referred to as an "autoimmune disorder," which causes the body’s own immune system to attack itself. It is one of the most disabling forms of arthritis and affects more women than men. Symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include pain, joint swelling and stiffness.
Other inflammatory or autoimmune diseases that can cause arthritis include:
Living with Arthritis
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 15. It is a disease that can be very painful, but there are pain medications that can help. Also, in the case of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases that affect the joints, specialized medications can halt the progress of disease.
In addition to medications, a number of factors can help you manage pain and suffering from arthritis symptoms, including relaxation techniques, exercise, massage, and heat and cold treatments.
Another way to minimize pain and to delay further damage to joints is to reduce stress on joints. This includes using proper methods for bending, lifting, sitting and standing. Weight management can also help by taking stress off of damaged joints.
Getting a Second Opinion about Arthritis
People who suffer from arthritis may choose to seek additional medical advice from another doctor or specialist.
Arthritis Support Groups
Additional Arthritis Resources
National Institute on Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
American College of Rheumatology
Arthritis Tests and Treatments
In order to diagnose arthritis, a doctor will do a physical check-up, review your medical history and order x-rays. Your doctor may also order blood tests to look for inflammation in your bloodstream.
There is no cure for arthritis, but treatments can help reduce symptoms such as pain and swelling. Treatment for arthritis will vary depending on your specific condition. Generally the following will be recommended as a treatment:
- Physical therapy
- Weight Control
- Anti-inflammatory or anti-rheumatic drugs
Your Medical Team
Depending on the type of arthritis, treatment is provided by either an orthopedist or a rheumatologist.
- Orthopedist – An orthopedist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the skeletal system (bones and joints). An orthopedist treats osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatologist – A rheumatologist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of arthritis and other diseases of the joints, muscles and bones. A rheumatologist treats rheumatoid arthritis and other types of inflammatory arthritis that may be caused by such diseases as gout, systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriasis, or ankylosing spondylitis.
Other Arthritis Staff
- Physical therapist – A physical therapist is a health care professional who treat individuals with various health conditions, including arthritis, to reduce pain, restore function and prevent disability.
- Occupational therapist – An occupational therapist provides treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives with an emphasis on the social, emotional, and physiological effects of a condition.
Some areas currently under investigation include:
- Identifying the causes for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus
- Studies utilizing new drugs for the treatment of inflammatory arthritis
- Understanding how lupus can affect the brain