Early Detection for Arthritis: The Nation's Most Common Cause of Disability Likely to be Detectable Via a Blood Test Soon

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Dr. John D. Tomasin, MD, a Northern California Medical Associates (NCMA) Orthopedic Surgeon discusses living with arthritis, exploring the latest research on the care of arthritis and explains when total-joint-replacement is necessary.

John D. Tomasin, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon

Early, aggressive treatment is particularly important for rheumatoid arthritis in order to help prevent further damage and disability down the road ...

Research, led by the University of Warwick in the UK published recently in the journal Scientific Reports reveals that the first blood test for detection of early-stage osteoarthritis could soon be developed. Researchers who say that the biomarker they identified in the study makes it possible to detect the painful joint condition before bone and joint damage becomes obvious.Dr. John Tomasin, NCMA Orthopedic Surgeon, points out that this development will help to bring treatment for arthritis to patients when it could actually have the greatest impact; in the early stages of the disease.

Researchers suggest that this discovery raises the potential of a blood test that can help diagnose the most common forms of arthritis, RA and OA -- as much as several years before the onset of physical symptoms. “With this sort of advanced warning orthopedic physicians would be able to manage and treat symptoms well before the disease reaches its more painful state and starts to become degenerative,” Tomasin says.

The sooner the diagnosis, the better -- as most types of arthritis can be managed fairly well, and the pain and disability minimized when caught in the early stages. While it may be some time before advance detection is available by way of a blood test, treating arthritis as symptoms arise and knowing when to make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist will help to give patients a better outlook on living with arthritis.

Common Forms of Arthritis

It may surprise some people to learn that arthritis is the nation’s most common cause of disability affecting an estimated 52.5 million adults in the U.S; that figure translates to about 1 of 5 adults currently living with some form of arthritis. According to the Center for Disease Control, as the U.S. population continues to age, the number of adults with arthritis is expected to increase to a whopping 67 million by 2030.

Arthritis is most commonly diagnosed in adults 65 years or older but people of all ages - including children, can be affected. It tends to affect women more than men (26 to 19 percent respectively) of all racial and ethnic groups. Arthritis is thought to be caused by inflammation of the tissue lining the joints. More than 100 different category of rheumatic diseases and conditions exist under the umbrella of an arthritis diagnosis; the most common being osteoarthritis which usually develops are part of the aging process, and most often affects the fingers, knees and hips. Other forms of arthritis that occur includes:

  •     rheumatoid arthritis
  •     lupus
  •      gout, pseudo gout

Arthritis is also more commonly diagnosed among adults who have issues of obesity, and is less likely to appear in those who maintain a healthy weight. There is no known cure for arthritis, but there are many treatments that can help slow down the condition and provide some relief. Symptoms universally include pain, aching, stiffness and swelling in or around the joints. Certain forms of arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, have been known to affect organs and cause pervasive symptoms throughout the body.

How Is Arthritis Treated?

Arthritis treatments are aimed at providing pain relief by controlling inflammation and increasing joint mobility. “Early, aggressive treatment is particularly important for rheumatoid arthritis in order to help prevent further damage and disability down the road,” explains Dr. Tomasin. Common treatment options may include medication, an exercise regime specific to the condition, application of heat or cold compresses and use of joint protection. When these methods fail to provide relief surgery may be considered.

When it’s time for Total Join Replacement

Total joint replacement is a surgical procedure where aspects of an arthritic or damaged joint are removed and replaced with prosthesis. This type of prosthesis is constructed from plastic, ceramic or metal and is designed to perfectly replicate the movement of a normal, healthy joint.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons the vast majority of patients report a significant decrease in pain following total joint replacement surgery; up to 90 percent of all patients. “Most patients quickly return to normal daily activities and are usually able to continue to stay active for years to come,” says Dr. Tomasin. “In many cases, following total joint replacement surgery we see our patients resume activities they enjoyed prior to being diagnosed with arthritis.”

A variety of conditions can cause joint pain and disability that lead patients to consider joint replacement surgery including damage to the cartilage that lines the ends of the bones called ‘articular cartilage’ usually due to arthritis, a fracture, trauma or some other condition.

It is reported that about 1 million total joint replacements were performed in the United States as if 2011. The most common type of joint replacement is hip and knee but replacement surgery can also be successfully performed on the ankle, wrist, elbow and shoulder.

About Dr. Tomasin

Dr. John D. Tomasin attended medical school at the University of California, Davis-School of Medicine, and completed his residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Scottish Rite Hospital for Crippled Children in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Tomasin completed his Sports Medicine Fellowship at Hughston Sports Medicine Clinic in Columbus, GA, as well as an AO Fellowship in Munich, West Germany. Dr. Tomasin has been published in numerous professional medical journals, including Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Journal of Orthopedic Trauma, and The Physician and Sports Medicine.

Dr. Tomasin has been the team physician for numerous high school athletic programs, including Healdsburg High School and Cardinal Newman High School. He is also been the acting medical consultant for the Northern California Rugby Football Union, and the team physician for the Santa Rosa Rugby Club. Dr. Tomasin is committed to the health of the Sonoma County community, and he has been in practice in Healdsburg since 1988. To learn more visit our website or call 707-4330-0126 for an appointment.

Resources:

First blood test for osteoarthritis could soon be available - http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150320091317.htm

Arthritis: The Nation's Most Common Cause of Disability - http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/publications/aag/arthritis.htm

Arthritis Basics - http://www.webmd.com/osteoarthritis/guide/arthritis-basics?page=3#1

Arthritis Foundation - http://www.arthritistoday.org/

Living With Arthritis: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family - http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Arthritis/default.asp

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