Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Disease Care: Helping You Move Forward

Arthritis isn’t just an older person’s disease. In fact, it’s one of the most common chronic health issues in the United States, limiting activities many of us of all ages take for granted, from walking to dressing to bathing. That’s why Holland Hospital is dedicated to helping those suffering from arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases move forward again.

Our rheumatologists, physical and occupational therapists, physiatrists, orthopedic surgeons and other specialists provide comprehensive treatment for all types of arthritis, close to where you live. We’re also here to offer guidance on caring for your bones and joints in the years ahead—so you can enjoy a fuller, more active life.

Common Types of Arthritis

The most common forms of arthritis include:

  • Osteoarthritis, a chronic disease involving the weight-bearing joints, affecting nearly 21 million Americans. It is the most common form of arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. This creates inflammation that causes the synovium (tissue that lines the inside of your joints) to thicken, resulting in joint swelling and pain. More common in younger women, rheumatoid arthritis affects more than 2 million people in the U.S.
  • Gout occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the body, and is distinguished by sudden, severe attacks of pain, redness and tenderness in joints. Gout flares often affect the joint at the base of the big toe. A complex form of arthritis, gout is more common in men, but women become more susceptible to the disease after menopause.

A Care Plan Made for You—and Only You

Characterized by pain, swelling and limited movement in joints and connective tissue, “arthritis” refers to more than 100 different diseases. It’s estimated that nearly 50 million Americans have some form of arthritis or chronic musculoskeletal pain.

If you’re part of these statistics, there’s good news. While there is no cure, early and aggressive treatment can prevent joint damage and disability. The painful and life-limiting symptoms of your chronic disease can be successfully managed through a combination of approaches, ranging from medication and rehabilitation to lifestyle modification.

By offering local access to a full continuum of care, including rheumatologic consultation, physical and occupational therapy, behavioral health services and orthopedic surgery, Holland Hospital has the evidence-based treatments, technologies and experts to reduce your pain and improve your mobility. No matter the condition or symptoms you’re facing, we’ll tailor a care plan that meets your specific needs and helps you realize your personal health goals.

Our Multidisciplinary Team

Holland Hospital’s multidisciplinary team is focused on helping you achieve and maintain the highest level of function and independence possible. Along with your primary care physician, your team may also incorporate the expertise of one or more of these caregivers:

  • Rheumatologist (a doctor who specializes in rheumatology, a subspecialty of medicine devoted to caring for diseases that affect muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, bone and the immune system)
  • Behavioral health therapist to help you manage the emotional challenges of chronic pain and disability
  • Physical and/or occupational therapist
  • Physiatrist (a doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation)
  • Orthopedic surgeon

Diagnosis: The First Step to Relief

While diagnosing arthritis and other rheumatic diseases can be difficult, Holland Hospital offers the latest testing and detection tools to pinpoint your specific condition. To diagnose your condition, your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms, perform a physical exam to check for things like swollen joints and loss of motion, and use blood tests and x-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

X-rays and other imaging procedures can help diagnose your condition. For example, x-rays are helpful for diagnosing osteoarthritis, as they can reveal loss of cartilage, bone spurs and other underlying issues causing symptoms. Joint aspiration (drawing a small sample of fluid from the joint with a needle for testing) may sometimes be used to rule out other types of joint diseases, such as gout or pseudo-gout.

Treatment: Improving Quality of Life

You may not be able to make arthritis disappear, but there are many treatments available that can help you manage your disease with less pain and frustration. Depending on your condition and severity of symptoms, your treatment plan may include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs; e.g., Motrin or Advil).
  • Prescription NSAIDs, and oral disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and biologic response modifier drugs (BRMs; e.g., Enbrel, Humira, Remicade). These drugs are sometimes used in combination to reach low disease activity or remission.
  • Surgery to remove loose pieces of bone and cartilage, smooth bone surfaces, reposition bones or replace joints. Holland Hospital offers a dedicated Joint Replacement Center, and has received national recognition for orthopedic surgery.
  • Exercise and other lifestyle changes. Exercise can help you maintain muscle strength, preserve joint mobility, improve flexibility, and manage pain and stiffness.