Ask a Health Care Professional: Arthritis

Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation of the joints and can affect anyone, not just the elderly. Dr. Eugene Sun, Medical Director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Mexico provides answers to all your questions about arthritis in this month's Ask a Health Care Professional

Show Transcript

Dr. Sun: I’m Eugene Sun, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

Narrator: The topic for July is arthritis. Dr. Sun what is arthritis?
Dr. Sun:  Arthritis is inflammation of one or more of the joints in your body. It can involve any joint, but the hands, spine, hips, and knees are commonly affected.

Narrator: What are the symptoms of arthritis?
Dr. Sun: The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. Pain and stiffness can be worse in the morning and improve as the day progresses.

Narrator: What causes arthritis?
Dr. Sun: Arthritis is caused by damage to the cartilage and bones surrounding joints. Where normal joints move very smoothly and with very little friction, arthritic joints lose range of motion and don’t move as well and are painful.

Narrator: What are the most common types of arthritis?
Dr. Sun: A common type is osteoarthritis which is mainly due to aging and wear and tear. Another common type is Rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system, which normally protects you from bacteria and viruses, also attacks and damages joints for reasons that are not well understood.

Narrator: Who is at risk for arthritis?
Dr. Sun: People with a family history of arthritis can be at higher risk. The risk for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis increase with age. People with previous joint injuries are at higher risk as are people with obesity.

Narrator: What are the common forms of treatment?
Dr. Sun: For osteoarthritis there is no curative treatment. Treatment is focused on reducing pain and maintaining function by using anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen or naproxen, and staying physically active. Autoimmune arthritis such as Rheumatoid Arthritis can be treated with medications that can decrease the damage that the body’s immune system does to joints.

Narrator: Is arthritis preventable?
Dr. Sun: There are some things you can do to help. Maintain a healthy weight for your height, eat healthy foods and stay physically active. If you have questions, check with your doctor.

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