Avera Medical Minute: Arthritis remission is possible

FLANDREAU, SD (KSFY) - Doing household chores is something you may not look forward to, but Teresa Watson of Flandreau loves that she can keep things squeaky clean.

Rheumatologist Dr. Kara Petersen explains the various types of arthritis and treatment options.

A few years ago, Teresa was struggling with not only household tasks, but she also was experiencing muscle tightness and joint pain.

"It got so bad that I in the mornings I could hardly get dressed in the morning, put my shoes on. My husband had to pull me out of the chair and I was in my early 50's then," said Watson.

An initial conversation with her doctor in Flandreau led to a referral with Rheumatologist Kara Petersen in Sioux Falls, at Avera Medical Rheumatology.

"Teresa has rheumatoid arthritis which is an autoimmune condition that attacks the joints and sometimes attacks other internal organs as well," said Petersen. "For her, it has been primarily a joint disease."

She was also diagnosed with a second form of the disease.

"She also has osteoarthritis which is more of the wear and tear arthritis," said Peterson.

An infusion is part of the treatment plan.

"Now I'm on an infusion that I do at the hospital, every other month," added Watson.

Her treatment takes place at the Avera Flandreau Hospital.

"They start an IV, and they give me the medication. It takes approximately three hours to do it. It's something they need to do very slowly," said Watson.

That process has been life-changing.

"It's going very well. I don't very much have pain at all, I mean occasionally I'll have joint pain here and there. The muscle stiffness is basically gone, but, it's really been very good," said Watson.

Each person who meets with a rheumatologist has an individual care plan based on what type of arthritis is diagnosed.

"There are over one hundred kinds of arthritis, it kind of depends on the pathology or disease process that are affecting the joints," said Peterson.

The cause of arthritis could come from an autoimmune disease or waste products building up in the joints. The most common type, osteoarthritis, is caused another way.

"Which is basically the wearing and tearing of the cartilage, which is the protective covering on the ends of the bones," added Petersen.

Doctor Petersen says the earlier you can treat arthritis the better, to prevent future damage that can't be reversed.

Teresa's advice, don't ignore the symptoms and talk to your doctor right away. "Go get the help that you need because there are some really good medications out there, and some very good doctors to help you with this," said Watson.

If you see a Rheumatologist several tests will help determine what kind of arthritis you may have, Blood tests, x-rays along with tracking the pain and swelling will determine the diagnosis and treatment plan.

With the progress of medical intervention, having arthritis and going into remission is very common. Doctor Petersen says that something not heard of, only fifteen to twenty years ago.