Commonly Misdiagnosed: Arthritis

Commonly Misdiagnosed: Arthritis

A lot of patients come to Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas with a misdiagnosis and report, “I was diagnosed with arthritis by my doctor.” To which we usually respond, “Okay, how? Did the doctor take an X-Ray? Orthopedic evaluation? Did they do anything?”

Upon further questioning, the patients will respond, “Well no, I told them my joints hurt and the doctor told me since I’m getting old it must be arthritis”. Case closed. 

At Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas, we know there is always more to the story and we believe in a patient-centered approach to provide treatment that allows for improved quality of life. 

Let’s start at the beginning. What is arthritis? 

Arthritis defined, simply, means joint inflammation. Arthritis is very common, but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. Another way to think about arthritis is that it is not actually a condition, but a symptom of another underlying cause.

Common arthritis joint symptoms include the following:

Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. The symptoms may stay about the same for years, but can progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. 

Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.

The ‘Right’ Phase

Saying ‘I have arthritis’ does not mean anything specific. You need to know the stage you are currently in. There are 4 phases of arthritis. In phase one, the cartilage and soft tissues in and around the joining start to soften and lose their ability to protect or lubricate the joint. In phase two, large sections of cartilage begin to wear away. As a result, the joint will start to lose its normal shape. The third phase of arthritis is where we begin to see the formation of calcium deposits or bone spurs. At this time, open cysts may form in the bone. During the fourth phase, the progression of arthritis occurs which is when we begin to see the joint fusing together. This naturally occurring fusion is when the joint is no longer capable of bending, twisting, or turning. As a result, this renders the joint immobile and in need of replacement. At Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas, we will determine the stage based on a thorough medical evaluation and then come up with a treatment plan.

Our Arthritis Treatment Plan 

Basic anatomy is consistent across the board, but we know that motion is lotion. At Neuropathy & Pain Centers of Texas, we are firm believers that if you don’t move it then you lose it. A lot of the emphasis with our patients is moving their joints in a consistent manner to stop the progression of arthritis. Arthritis gets worse the longer you have the damage. 

Contrary to popular belief, arthritis is not age related. You can be 80 years old and have stage/phase 1 arthritis or you can be 30 years old and have stage/phase 3 arthritis. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis. Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. 

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