An older man reading a newspaper on a bench overlooking a vast field

10 Early Signs of Arthritis You Should Not Overlook

An older man reading a newspaper on a bench overlooking a vast field

Arthritis, characterized by inflammation of one or more joints, is a condition that affects millions globally. This blog highlights 10 early signs of arthritis that shouldn’t be ignored.

1. Persistent Joint Pain

One of the most unmistakable early signs of arthritis is persistent joint pain. This discomfort may be constant or may come and go. Unlike the temporary joint pain that can follow physical exertion, arthritis-related pain persists over time. It gradually intensifies and becomes more frequent.

2. Stiffness in Joints

Stiffness in the joints that lasts more than 30 minutes can be an early sign of arthritis. This stiffness often occurs after periods of inactivity. It’s a hallmark of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune form of the disease, but it’s also common in other types of arthritis.

3. Swelling or Tenderness

Joint swelling or tenderness is another early warning sign. Inflammation caused by arthritis can lead to noticeable swelling in and around the joints (accompanied by tenderness to the touch). Swelling that persists for days or occurs repeatedly over a short period warrants medical evaluation.

4. Reduced Range of Motion

A reduction in range of motion is a sign that arthritis may be affecting joint function. Individuals might find it challenging to perform simple tasks that require bending at the joint, such as tying shoes or reaching for objects. This limitation can progress and severely impact daily activities if not addressed promptly with physical therapy and other management strategies.

5. Joint Warmth and Redness

Warmth and redness around a joint, along with other symptoms like pain and swelling, can indicate inflammatory arthritis, particularly when observed in multiple joints. The affected area may feel hot and appear redder compared to the surrounding skin.

6. Crepitus

Crepitus, or the sensation of cracking, popping, or grinding in the joints with movement, is often an early sign of arthritis. This symptom indicates that the cartilage within the joint may be deteriorating or that there is a decrease in the synovial fluid that lubricates the joint. Crepitus occurs more commonly with osteoarthritis.

7. Fatigue

A young woman with fatigue lies in bed

Fatigue is a less recognized but significant early sign of certain types of arthritis. This systemic symptom arises from the body’s immune response to inflammation. Experiencing persistent fatigue along with other joint symptoms can indicate the need for an arthritis evaluation.

8. Numbness or Tingling

Numbness or tingling, particularly in the hands, may signal inflammatory arthritis affecting the nerves. For instance, rheumatoid arthritis can cause inflammation that compresses nerves. This symptom, often overlooked as unrelated to joint issues, should prompt consideration of an arthritis evaluation.

9. Unexplained Weight Loss

Unexplained weight loss can accompany the early stages of inflammatory arthritis. As the body’s immune system fights the inflammation, metabolism may increase, leading to weight loss. This systemic sign, combined with other early signs of arthritis, underscores the condition’s impact beyond just the joints.

10. Fever

A low-grade fever can accompany the early stages of some types of arthritis. Fever alone is nonspecific; however, when it occurs with joint pain, stiffness, and swelling, it can be a sign of underlying inflammatory arthritis.

Visit Houston Physicians’ Hospital

Arthritis can significantly impact one’s quality of life. However, recognizing these early signs offers the best chance for effective management and treatment. Awareness of these symptoms, coupled with timely medical consultation, can help mitigate the effects of arthritis.

At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, we have doctors who specialize in joint pain treatment, whether it’s caused by arthritis or another ailment. Our Orthopedic Center of Excellence is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and staffed by leading orthopedic specialists who can diagnose and manage your condition effectively. Visit the webpage to learn more and find an orthopedic physician who’s right for you.


A 3D female figure with the cervical spine near the head highlighted in reddish orange.

6 Innovative Approaches to Cervical Spine Health in 2024

A 3D female figure with the cervical spine near the head highlighted in reddish orange.

Your cervical spine, comprised of the first seven vertebrae in your spine, plays a crucial role in supporting the weight of your head, protecting your spinal cord, and facilitating various movements.

However, this vital region of the spine is susceptible to a myriad of conditions, ranging from neck pain and arthritis to degenerative bone and disk disease and stenosis. These conditions can significantly impact your quality of life, leading to discomfort, reduced mobility, and functional limitations.

Fortunately, various approaches have emerged in response to cervical spine health challenges, offering promising solutions for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in 2024.

1. Precision Medicine

Advancements in genetic testing, biomarker identification, and personalized treatment algorithms are paving the way for precision medicine in cervical spine health.

Tailoring interventions based on individual genetic profiles, disease characteristics, and patient preferences holds great promise for optimizing treatment efficacy and minimizing adverse effects.

2. Minimally Invasive Procedures

Minimally invasive techniques continue to evolve, offering safer and more effective alternatives to traditional open surgeries for cervical spine disorders.

Innovations such as endoscopic spine surgery, robotic-assisted procedures, and percutaneous interventions enable surgeons to achieve precise spinal decompression, fusion, and stabilization with reduced tissue trauma, shorter recovery times, and improved patient satisfaction.

3.  Advanced Imaging Modalities

Emerging imaging technologies, including high-resolution MRI, Spatial Photon Counting CT (SPCCT), and intraoperative navigation systems, provide unprecedented insights into cervical spine anatomy, pathology, and surgical planning.

Real-time visualization and navigation capabilities enable surgeons to perform safer and more accurate procedures, leading to improved patient outcomes and reduced operative risks.

Three doctors looking at an X-ray of a spinal column.

4. Biologics and Regenerative Therapies

Biological agents, growth factors, and regenerative therapies hold great promise for enhancing tissue healing, promoting spinal fusion, and reducing inflammation in cervical spine disorders. Innovative approaches such as platelet-rich plasma (PRP), stem cell therapy, and tissue engineering techniques offer potential alternatives or adjuncts to traditional surgical interventions, fostering tissue repair and regeneration.

5. Telemedicine and Remote Monitoring

The widespread adoption of telemedicine platforms and remote monitoring technologies has transformed the delivery of cervical spine care, particularly in remote or underserved areas.

Teleconsultations, virtual follow-up visits, and wearable devices enable healthcare providers to remotely assess patients’ progress, monitor treatment adherence, and provide timely interventions, enhancing access to care and patient convenience.

6. Integrative and Multidisciplinary Care Models

Integrative care models that combine conventional treatments with complementary therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, physical therapy, and mind-body interventions are gaining recognition in cervical spine health.

Multidisciplinary teams comprising spine surgeons, pain specialists, rehabilitation therapists, and holistic practitioners can collaborate to address the complex needs of patients, emphasizing holistic wellness and functional recovery.

Find a doctor who’s right for you at Houston Physicians’ Hospital. Our team of expert physicians offers personalized care tailored to your specific condition, ensuring you receive the highest quality treatment and support.

Whether you need orthopedic care, spine surgery, pain management, or any other service at a specialty hospital, we’re here to support your health and wellness. Experience the difference made by comprehensive evaluations; state-of-the-art treatments; and compassionate, patient-centered care given by healthcare professionals at Houston Physicians’ Hospital in Webster.

A wrinkled pair of hands belonging to an elderly person.

What’s the Difference Between Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor?

A wrinkled pair of hands belonging to an elderly person.

When observing someone with trembling hands or involuntary movements in the arms, legs, or head, many may immediately associate these symptoms with Parkinson’s disease (PD). However, it’s important to recognize that these manifestations could also indicate a more prevalent albeit less severe condition known as essential tremor.

Since both are distinct neurological disorders, knowing the difference between Parkinson’s disease (PD) and essential tremor (ET) is important for an accurate diagnosis and effective management.

What Is Essential Tremor?

Essential tremor is the most prevalent type of tremor, characterized by involuntary shaking, primarily affecting the hands and arms. Although not life-threatening, severe cases can lead to disability.

Initially, the tremor is typically low-amplitude/frequency (lower force) and may affect the head and voice as well. Typically starting with mild shaking, the tremors may increase in severity but occur with a reduced frequency over time.

Researchers are uncertain about the condition’s cause, but there is evidence of genetic predisposition, with a higher likelihood among people whose parents have suffered from it. Essential tremor can manifest at any age but it’s most common in adults over 40, affecting both genders equally.


What Is Parkinson’s Disease?

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological disorder resulting from insufficient dopamine production in the brain. It predominantly affects older adults over 60, with a higher incidence in men.

Tremors in Parkinson’s typically begin unilaterally, often in the hands, before spreading to the other side of the body. These tremors are characterized by a amplitude but lower frequency compared to essential tremors.

Parkinson’s presents a range of symptoms beyond tremors, including muscle stiffness, bradykinesia (slowed movements), and postural instability. While tremors are a hallmark symptom, other motor and non-motor symptoms distinguish Parkinson’s disease.


More Differences Between Parkinson’s and Essential Tremor

The Numbers

According to estimates, essential tremors impact approximately 7 million people in the United States alone, making it considerably more common than Parkinson’s disease, with a prevalence at least eight times higher.

Meanwhile, Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that affects about 1% of individuals over 60 years old. It is characterized by movement difficulties, as opposed to essential tremors, where bilateral tremors in the hands and arms are the hallmark feature.


PD results from the degeneration of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain’s substantia nigra region. The exact cause remains unknown, but genetic and environmental factors likely play a role.

ET’s precise cause is also unclear, but it is believed to involve abnormalities in the cerebellum, a brain region responsible for coordinating movement. Genetic factors may contribute to its development.

The Tremors

According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, the primary distinction between Parkinsonian tremors (PT) and other types of tremors lies in their presentation. PT typically manifest as a “resting tremor,” characterized by trembling or shaking movements occurring while the individual is at rest or maintaining stillness.

In contrast, other types of tremors, such as essential tremor or tremors associated with dystonia or cerebellar disorders, typically present as “action tremors.” These tremors manifest when the individual actively engages or uses the affected body part, such as during movement or when maintaining a particular posture.

Progression and Life Span

PD is a progressive condition, with symptoms worsening over time as neuronal degeneration advances. Patients may experience fluctuations in symptoms and may eventually develop significant motor and non-motor complications.

Meanwhile, ET tends to be a slowly progressive condition, although the rate of progression varies among individuals. While tremors may worsen over time, many patients experience relatively stable symptoms with appropriate management.

Moreover, essential tremor symptoms may progress but generally don’t shorten an individual’s life span, whereas Parkinson’s tends to worsen over time and can impact life expectancy due to decreased levodopa production.

A patient lies in an MRI machine undergoing Insightec treatment for his essential tremor.

Associated Health Problems

In addition to tremors, PD is characterized by bradykinesia (again, slowed movements), rigidity, and postural instability. Patients may also experience stooped posture, shuffling gait, freezing of gait, and non-motor symptoms like depression and cognitive changes.

While ET is primarily characterized by tremors, some patients may also experience mild balance difficulties or coordination problems. Unlike PD, ET typically does not cause significant motor impairments or non-motor symptoms.

Management Strategies

Both conditions can be managed with medications, physical therapy, and other techniques, like deep brain stimulation. However, MR-guided focused ultrasound from Insightec has been used successfully in the treatment of both essential tremor and PD. The treatment is completely noninvasive and the effects are instantaneous and can last up to six years. Plus, it can be administered to both sides of the brain and it’s covered under Medicare.

Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial for personalized guidance and support. If PD, ET, or any other chronic healthcare condition is disrupting your life, Houston Physicians’ Hospital can help. Visit their webpage dedicated to MR-Focused Ultrasound for Essential Tremor Treatment to learn more and to find a doctor who can provide the treatment.

Professionals at our specialty hospital understand the challenges you may face and are dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to your individual needs. Whether you require medication management, physical therapy Services in Houston, or other advanced treatment options, we’re here to support your journey toward regaining control and improving your quality of life.

A man exercising with the help of a physical therapist.

The Role of Physical Therapy in Orthopedic Recovery

A man exercising with the help of a physical therapist.

Orthopedic injuries and surgeries can significantly impact an individual’s mobility, functionality, and overall quality of life. In the journey toward recovery, physical therapy emerges as a pivotal component, offering tailored interventions to promote healing, restore function, and prevent future complications.

Key Interventions in Physical Therapy for Orthopedic Recovery

Physical therapy holds a central position in orthopedic recovery due to its multifaceted approach to rehabilitation. Through comprehensive assessment and personalized treatment plans, physical therapists address the unique needs of each patient, considering factors such as the nature of the injury, functional limitations, and individual goals.

Physical therapy for orthopedic recovery encompasses a wide range of interventions tailored to the specific needs of patients. These may include:

Therapeutic Exercise: Targeted exercises designed to improve strength, flexibility, endurance, and proprioception are fundamental components of orthopedic rehabilitation. Therapists prescribe exercises based on the patient’s condition, gradually increasing the exercises’ intensity and complexity to facilitate functional recovery.

Manual Therapy Techniques: Hands-on techniques such as joint mobilization, soft tissue mobilization, and manual stretching are utilized to improve joint mobility, reduce pain, and address tissue restrictions. Manual therapy interventions are often integrated into treatment plans to complement therapeutic exercise and promote tissue healing.

Gait Training and Functional Rehabilitation: For individuals recovering from orthopedic injuries affecting mobility, gait training and functional rehabilitation are essential. Physical therapists employ various techniques to improve walking patterns, balance, and coordination, facilitating a safe return to daily activities and functional independence.

Modalities: Modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and heat/cold therapy may be used adjunctively to manage pain, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue healing. While these modalities do not constitute stand-alone treatments, they can complement other therapeutic interventions within a comprehensive rehabilitation program.

Patient Education and Home Exercise Programs: Empowering patients with knowledge about their condition, proper body mechanics, and injury prevention strategies is integral to orthopedic rehabilitation.

Physical therapists educate patients about their treatment plans, monitor progress, and provide guidance on home exercise programs to reinforce gains achieved during therapy sessions.


Outcomes and Benefits of Physical Therapy for Orthopedic Recovery 

Improved Functionality

By targeting impairments and restoring mobility, strength, and coordination, physical therapy may enhance functional abilities, allowing individuals to perform daily tasks with greater ease and efficiency.

Pain Management

Physical therapy interventions such as manual therapy, therapeutic exercise, and modalities may effectively manage pain associated with orthopedic conditions, promoting comfort and facilitating participation in rehabilitation activities.

A man running in a group after receiving physical therapy for orthopedic recovery for an injury.

Enhanced Recovery

Through structured rehabilitation programs, physical therapy may accelerate the recovery process, facilitating tissue healing, preventing complications, and optimizing overall recovery outcomes.

Reduced Disability

Orthopedic physical therapy aims to minimize disability and prevent long-term limitations by addressing functional deficits early in the rehabilitation process and promoting optimal recovery.

Increased Quality of Life

By restoring mobility, reducing pain, and improving function, physical therapy can enhance the overall quality of life for individuals recovering from orthopedic injuries, enabling them to resume meaningful activities and engage fully in daily life.

Every orthopedic case presents its own set of challenges and complexities, demanding a tailored approach to rehabilitation. At Houston Physicians’ Hospital, our physical therapy services in Webster are tailored to meet your individual needs.

Our team of experienced orthopedic doctors conducts comprehensive assessments to understand the specific nature of each condition and the unique goals of every patient. From there, they craft personalized treatment plans that address the individual needs, preferences, and circumstances of each patient.

Whether it’s neck pain, joint pain, arthritis, back pain, knee surgery in Webster TX, or any other complications from an injury or chronic condition, our team is committed to helping you achieve the best possible outcome. We utilize a range of therapeutic techniques aimed at reducing pain, improving mobility, and strengthening the muscles.

Throughout the rehabilitation process, your physician will closely monitor your progress and make necessary adjustments to empower you to actively participate in your recovery journey, fostering a collaborative and supportive environment that maximizes success.

If you suffer from a musculoskeletal condition that’s causing you pain, visit our Orthopedic Center of Excellence webpage to learn more. At the bottom of the page, you can select from a list of doctors—find one who’s right for you.