Rheumatology Frequently Asked Questions

While researchers suspect that some forms of arthritis have genetic links, having parents with arthritis does not necessarily mean that you will develop it. There are other triggers that can lead to arthritis, and the causes of many forms of arthritis are not fully understood.

Areas with a dry, hot climate (such as the southwestern United States) have been found to reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis but cannot change the underlying disease or potential damage it may cause. You should visit an area for an extended period of time before making a final decision to move.

If your condition is uncommon, visit the website of the National Organization for Rare Disorders, which has an extensive information library.

Speak to your doctor first to find out which forms of exercise will best suit your particular physical condition. Consider developing your exercise program with the help of a physical therapist or personal trainer skilled in working with people who have arthritis. Water exercises can be particularly effective for persons with joint conditions.

All drugs, even over-the-counter medications, have potential side effects, which you'll find listed on the package or on an inserted sheet. You should be familiar with the information, and be aware of the side effects that require immediate medical attention. Your doctor or pharmacist can also provide more specific information about side effects based on your medical history and other medications you may be taking. Please contact your doctor or seek emergency treatment right away if you're experiencing problems.

There can sometimes be dangerous interactions between medications. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about potential problems. Using your medical history and medication plan, they can quickly determine any potentially harmful interactions.

There are many alternative and complementary therapies. Some can be safe and effective, while others can be quite dangerous. We recommend that you speak to your doctor before trying any new treatment to determine safety and potential interactions with other medications you may be taking.

Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones lose mass and become more porous, resulting in brittle bones that are more prone to fracture. We all reach our peak bone mass around age 35. From that time, our bones start getting thinner. Since estrogen helps to maintain bone thickness, the drop in estrogen level during menopause causes the bone loss to increase. Calcium, Vitamin D, exercise, hormone replacement therapy and certain medications can help slow bone loss.

Osteoarthritis is the wearing down of cartilage in the joint. The body responds by creating new bone but not necessarily in the correct position. This new growth may make some joints appear larger and misshapen and can make the space between the bones smaller. The bones may then rub against one another, interfering with the joint's normal function.

Although little evidence supports the benefit of chiropractic manipulation, acupuncture and herbal remedies for osteoarthritis, these may provide pain relief of an affected joint. It is important to communicate your use of complementary therapies with your healthcare provider to ensure that these treatments do not interfere with your other medical conditions or therapies.

People who have fibromyalgia are not at greater risk for any other musculoskeletal disease.