Arthritis: What Is It?

And how do we treat it?

Contrary to what many think, arthritis is not one single disease – but one word that refers to many forms of joint pain or joint disease. CHI Health Orthopedic Surgeon Stephen Brown, MD, says a majority of his patients are coming to him for arthritis.

“At least 50 percent of the patients I see are there because of arthritis in their shoulders, hips or knees,” Dr. Brown said. “They don't know it's arthritis, but they know something hurts.”

The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, stiffness and swelling, which typically worsens with age – but it can also affect young people. Dr. Brown sees people of all ages, from teenage athletes to seniors.

“The most common form of arthritis is degenerative (or osteoarthritis), which means the ‘wear and tear’ on your bones and joints, but it doesn’t have to be a normal part of aging.”

Maintaining a healthy weight and following an anti-inflammatory diet are key to delaying and even preventing the onset of arthritis. Lean protein (fish and chicken) and whole grains (rice, oats, quinoa) should be part of your meal plan. Cut out processed foods, alcohol and sugar.

Conservative treatments like injections and physical therapy can help manage pain, but Dr. Brown says there’s one way to know when it’s time for the next step - joint replacement.

“When you quit doing things you like to do in life because of the pain, then you probably want to seek more aggressive treatment.”

Coming soon: Non-surgical arthritis pain relief

If you have osteoarthritis pain, but aren’t ready for joint replacement, CHI Health will soon be able to offer you a new solution.

“Genicular Nerve Radiofrequency Ablation, or Cooled RFA, is minimally invasive, outpatient pain relief,” said Ryan Dunn, DO, CHI Health Sports & Musculoskeletal Medicine  Specialist.

Using X-ray or ultrasound guidance, radio frequency signals are sent through several small electrode probes to desensitize specific nerves and reduce the perception of pain.

“It’s ideal for people who may not be surgical candidates, or for those looking to delay surgery,” Dr. Dunn said.

Other benefits of RFA include:

  • Pain relief for 12 months or longer
  • Can treat knee, hip or shoulder osteoarthritis and pain
  • Can be repeated as needed

Stephen R. Brown, MD

Sports Medicine,
Orthopedic Surgery