The human toll of inflammatory arthritis is staggering, with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), alone affecting an estimated 2 million people in the United States. Other autoimmune diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis affect a similar number of patients in the United States. This systemic disease predominantly affects the joints and can severely compromise the ability of patients to perform the routine tasks of daily living.
While improved treatments over the past 10 years have helped many patients with these inflammatory types of arthritis, there is still much to be done. Through exceptional clinical care, research, and education, the mission of the IAC is to build a better future for these patients.
The specialists at the Inflammatory Arthritis Center (IAC) at HSS treat patients for a variety of musculoskeletal and autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, spondyloarthropathies, and autoimmune ophthalmic illnesses. The IAC was established to help ensure that patients have access to the care they need and to assure continued progress toward understanding these diseases through education and research.
An Inflammatory Arthritis Clinic has been established at the Center, where medical students, residents, fellows, and attending physicians treat patients affected with these disorders. Over 60 patients are treated at this weekly clinic, where they benefit from the highest quality care provided by a multidisciplinary team that includes clinicians, social workers, a radiologist, and scientists.
Extensive research indicates that the earlier appropriate treatment starts for inflammatory arthritis, the less the ultimate disability. The Divisionís Early Arthritis Initiative (EAI), a collaborative effort of Rheumatology, Social Work, and Nursing, and the only such program in the New York metropolitan area, is committed to the education of the community, local physicians, and individual patients.
Since its inception, the Inflammatory Arthritis Center has succeeded in establishing a dedicated inflammatory arthritis clinic; formulating and populating inflammatory arthritis registries; initiating scientific studies; educating physicians; and providing excellent health care.
Inflammatory forms of arthritis usually involve many joints throughout the body at the same time and is caused by a problem with the immune system becoming overactive, resulting in joint inflammation. Arthritis caused by inflammation often results in pain and stiffness after periods of rest or inactivity, particularly in the morning. Swelling, redness, and warmth may be present in the affected joints. Other areas in the body can be affected by the inflammation as well, including the skin and internal organs such as the lungs and heart.
Although there are several major differences between inflammatory arthritis (IA) and osteoarthritis (OA), a major distinction is that osteoarthritis most commonly presents after the age of 50 and increases in frequency with age, while inflammatory arthritis tends to affect people of all ages, often striking people in their peak working and child-rearing age.
Major types of inflammatory arthritis include the following:
Inflammatory arthritis is usually treated with a combination of medications to relieve swelling and pain while regulating the immune system. As with osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery should also be considered when these non-surgical methods have failed to provide lasting benefit.
If detected and treated in its early stages, the effects of inflammatory arthritis can be greatly diminished and the condition may even disappear completely. The importance of proper diagnosis, particularly in the early stages of the disease, may prevent serious, lifelong arthritic complications.