ARTHRITIS – WHAT IS IT AND HOW CAN I TREAT IT?
Arthritis is very common but is not well understood. Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease; it is an informal way of referring to joint pain or joint disease. There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions. People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis. It is most common among women and occurs more frequently as people get older.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They may stay about the same for years, but may progress or get worse over time. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to do daily activities and make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint changes. These changes may be visible, such as knobby finger joints, but often the damage can only be seen on X-ray. Some types of arthritis also affect the heart, eyes, lungs, kidneys and skin as well as the joints.
The Centers for Disease Control has shown that 1 in 2 people will have knee arthritis by the time they are 85, and 1 in 4 will develop painful hip arthritis in their life. The good news is that you don’t have to live with arthritis pain and/or take medication or controlling drugs. The right form of treatment can make all the difference, including diet, exercise, stretching, and education.
As stated above, there are over 100 different types or forms of arthritis, including, but not limited to, Degenerative Joint Diseases (DJD), Inflammatory (Rheumatoid), Infectious (bacterium, viral or fungal), and Metabolic (Gout).
When the joint symptoms of arthritis are mild or moderate, they can be managed by:
- Balancing daily activity with some rest
- Using cold or hot therapies (depending on diagnosis)
- Gentle but regular physical activity, especially low impact or unloading environment (i.e. pool)
- Avoid excessive repetitive movements or do daily tasks in moderation
- Maintaining a healthy weight (i.e. Body Mass Index – BMI)
- Strengthening the muscles around the joint for added support
- Using assistive devices like cane or walker
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers (Tylenol) or anti-inflammatory (aleve, advil, Ibuprofen) medicines
- Physical Therapy
PHYSICAL THERAPY IS THE KEY
Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments for arthritis and makes a significant impact in your joint health. While arthritis can slow you down, it doesn’t have to. If you are suffering with arthritis, physical therapy can change your life and get you back on your feet and doing the things you enjoy in life.
In physical therapy we focus on the following:
- Restoring natural pain free range of motion in your joints
- Improving muscular support and strength around your joints
- Enhancing your balance and functional mobility
- Teaching you what to do to protect your joints from further damage (Education is the key)
While we cannot repair your cartilage, our unique treatments can reduce or even alleviate some of your pain, swelling and improve your ability to do those things in life that are enjoyable.
If joint symptoms are severe, causing limited mobility and affecting your quality of life, some of the above management strategies may be helpful, but if you have tried all the above actions and still can’t find relief, a joint replacement may be necessary. Consulting an Orthopedic surgeon may be the final step, but once you have the joint replaced, we are here to guide you through the post-surgery recovery while keeping your physician informed of your progress.
STOP LIVING WITH PAIN. Call us today to learn more how we can help you feel your best and enjoy life without arthritis pain.