Arthritis Awareness Month with Dr. Sharon Kreidstein

By Chiara Marcello

Arthritis is a common condition causing inflammation of one or more joints. With roughly 100 different varieties, arthritis affects the lives of many individuals. Dr. Sharon Kreidstien, a Rheumatologist from Humber River Hospital, assists many individuals with arthritis in its various forms. In light of September being Arthritis Awareness Month, Dr. Kreidstien has shared her insight on recognizing triggers  and understanding how to manage pain when living with arthritis.

What are the duties and responsibilities you have as a Rheumatologist?

As a community Rheumatologist in the Department of Medicine at Humber River, I am responsible for consulting with inpatients admitted into the hospital. I also receive patient referrals from both the Emergency Department and the various medical clinics within the hospital.

What causes arthritis? Do certain things trigger it or does it simply just appear? 

We typically categorize the different types of arthritis into two groups: Inflammatory and Degenerative. Inflammatory conditions, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, are autoimmune- they originate within your body and are not primarily environmental. For instance, it may be genetic and run in your family. The more degenerative forms of arthritis, such as Osteoarthritis, may appear for different reasons. As an example, certain foods and alcohols often trigger Gout arthritis, whereas other types flare up due to various skin conditions, such as psoriasis.

Despite the common beliefs on what causes arthritis, the weather has no impact on this condition. Neither does cracking your back or cracking your knuckles. Those are simply all myths!

What are some tips for patients suffering from inflammatory forms of arthritis? 

In regards to treatment processes for inflammatory arthritis, we have come a long way. The treatment processes have become much more effective in slowing down the progression of the condition. Therefore, if living with inflammatory forms of arthritis:

  • Be compliant with the directions from your Physicians
  • Follow Physician’s guidelines and medications that have proven to be successful in slowing progression
  • Follow up with Physicians when flare-ups occur

What are some tips for patients suffering from degenerative forms of arthritis? 

For those suffering from degenerative forms of arthritis, it is important to practice pain management techniques:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep the weight down
  • Try to walk and exercise regularly
  • Practice Physiotherapy and muscle strengthening to manage pain