Piedmont Arthritis Clinic treats patients with a broad range of inflammatory diseases that affect the skin, joints, muscles, and internal organs. All of our physicians are Board Certified in Rheumatology, and have special interest in the following conditions:
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, systemic inflammatory disorder that principally attacks synovial joints. It is an autoimmune disease with symptoms that can change from day to day and vary from person to person. Rheumatoid arthritis is symmetrical, meaning if a joint on one side of the body is affected, the corresponding joint on the other side of the body also is involved. Joints may feel warm to the touch and patients might notice a decreased range of motion, as well as inflammation, swelling and pain in the areas around the affected joints. Because the inflammation is systemic, patients are likely to feel fatigued, lose their appetite, and run a low-grade fever.
About one percent of the world’s population is afflicted by rheumatoid arthritis – women three times more often than men. Onset is most frequent between the ages of 40 and 50, but people of any age can be affected. Evidence shows that early diagnosis and aggressive treatment to put the disease into remission is the best means of avoiding joint destruction, organ damage and disability.
Psoriatic artrhritis is a chronic disease characterized by inflammation of the skin (psoriasis) and joints (arthritis). Patients who have inflammatory arthritis and psoriasis are diagnosed as having psoriatic arthritis. The onset of psoriatic arthritis generally occurs in those in their 40’s and 50’s. Males and females are affected equally.
The skin disease (psoriasis) and the joint disease (arthritis) often appear separately. In fact, the skin disease precedes the arthritis in nearly 80 percent of patients. However, the arthritis may precede the psoriasis in up to 15 percent of patients. In some patients, the diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis can be difficult if the arthritis precedes psoriasis by many years.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of chronic inflammation of the spine and the sacroiliac joints located in the low back where the sacrum (the bone directly above the tailbone) meets the iliac bones (bones on either side of the upper buttocks). Chronic inflammation in these areas causes pain and stiffness in and around the spine. Over time, chronic inflammation of the spine (spondylitis) can lead to a complete cementing together (fusion) of the vertebrae, a process referred to as ankylosis. Ankylosis leads to loss of mobility of the spine.
Ankylosing spondylitis is a systemic disease, meaning it can affect other tissues throughout the body. Accordingly, it can cause inflammation in or injury to other joints away from the spine, as well as to other organs, such as the eyes, heart, lungs, and kidneys. The disease is two to three times more common in males than in females. It affects all age groups, including children. The most common age of onset of symptoms is in the 20’s and 30’s.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune system becomes hyperactive and attacks normal, healthy tissue. This results in symptoms such as inflammation, swelling, and damage to joints, skin, kidneys, blood, the heart, and lungs. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, 1.5 to 2 million Americans have some form of lupus. Although the disease affects both males and females, women are diagnosed nine times more often than men, usually between the ages of 15 and 45. African-American women suffer from more severe symptoms and a higher mortality rate.
Gout is a form of arthritis that occurs when uric acid builds up in the joints. Acute gout is a painful condition that typically affects one joint. Chronic gout is repeated episodes of pain and inflammation, which may involve more than one joint. Gout is caused by having higher-than-normal levels of uric acid in the body. If too much uric acid builds up in the fluid around the joints (synovial fluid), uric acid crystals form and cause the joint to swell and become inflamed. Gout is more common in males, postmenopausal women, and people who drink alcohol.
Osteoporosis, the most common type of bone disease, is the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Researchers estimate that about one out of five American women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs when the body fails to form enough new bone, when too much old bone is reabsorbed by the body, or both. The leading causes of osteoporosis are a drop in estrogen in women at the time of menopause and a drop in testosterone in men. Women over the age of 50 and men over the age of 70 have a higher risk for osteoporosis.