How is athritis diagnosed?
Doctor Biehl is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis. He will evaluate symptoms, perform a physical examination, and X-rays, which are important to show the extent of damage to the joint. Blood tests and other laboratory tests may help to determine the type of arthritis. At present, most types of arthritis cannot be cured. Researchers continue to make progress in finding the underlying causes for the major types of arthritis. In the meantime, orthopedic surgeons, working with other physicians and scientists, have developed many effective treatments for arthritis. Dr. Biehl's goals for treatment are: to provide pain relief, increase motion, and improve strength. There are several kinds of treatment:
Medications - Many over-the-counter medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen (common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, NSAIDS) may be used to effectively control pain and inflammation in arthritis. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be used to effectively control pain. Prescription medications also are available if over-the-counter medications are not effective. Dr. Biehl chooses a medication by taking into account the type of arthritis, its severity, and the patient's general physical health. Injections of liquid cortisone directly into the joint may temporarily help to relieve pain and swelling. If cortisone fails he may try viscosupplementation injections.
Joint protection - Canes, crutches, walkers, or splints may help relieve the stress and strain on arthritic joints. Learning methods of performing daily activities that are the less stressful to painful joints also may be helpful. Certain exercises and physical therapy (such as heat treatments) may be used to decrease stiffness and to strengthen the weakened muscles around the joint.
Surgery - In general, Dr. Biehl will perform surgery for arthritis when other methods of nonsurgical treatment have failed to give relief. Dr. Biehl and the patient will choose the type of surgery by taking into account the type of arthritis, its severity, and the patient's physical condition. Surgical procedures include: arthroscopy, realignment of the joints, total joint replacement, and fusion of the bone ends of a joint to prevent joint motion and relieve joint pain.
In most cases, persons with arthritis can continue to perform normal activities of daily living. Exercise programs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and weight reduction for obese persons are common measures to reduce pain, stiffness, and improve function. In persons with severe cases of arthritis, orthopedic surgery can often provide dramatic pain relief and restore lost joint function. A total joint replacement, for example, can usually enable a person with severe arthritis in the hip or the knee to walk without pain or stiffness. Some types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis, are often treated by a team of health care professionals. These professionals may include rheumatologists, physical and occupational therapists, social workers, rehabilitation specialists, and orthopaedic surgeons. Doctor Biehl is a medical doctor, board certified, board re-certified fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon with extensive training in the diagnosis and nonsurgical and surgical treatment of the musculoskeletal system, including bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves.