Arthritis is an inflammation of the joints, simply put. When four or more joints are involved in arthritis, it is called polyarthritis. If two or three joints are involved, it is called oligoarthritis. When one joint has arthritis, it is called monoarthritis. There are over 100 types of arthritis, and it is the most common chronic illness in the country. Many people suffer from arthritis long before they receive a diagnosis. If you think that might be you, read on.
Causes and Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis can be caused by a variety of reasons. Hereditary factors, injury, effects of infection, metabolic abnormalities and a misdirected immune system. It is classified as a rheumatic disease. Men, women and even children can have arthritis.
The symptoms of arthritis include limited joint function, pain, swelling and redness. Arthritis in the knee can cause a loss of cartilage, and arthritis in the fingers can cause bone growth. Arthritis can also affect the organs and cause fatigue, weight loss or fever. The diagnosis of arthritis is typically made by a doctor who takes your medical history, examines your joints for inflammation and abnormality, listens to your symptoms and orders tests like blood panel and urinalysis.
Treatment for Arthritis
The pain and stiffness from arthritis can be debilitating, and there’s no cure for it. And even if you’re prescribed medication, it’s only short-term relief. That’s why many patients today turn to physical therapy for long-term relief. Approximately 60 thousand Americans suffer from some type of Arthritis and rely on physical therapy for treatment.
A physical therapist can teach you:
- Exercises tailored to improve joint usage, strength and mobility
- Proper body mechanics
- Correct posture to protect the joints
- How to properly use walking aids when needed
The goals of a physical therapy treatment program are to restore lost abilities, prevent further loss of use, maintain fitness and help you to take part in normal daily activities. Treatment for arthritis should start early for the best outcome.
Physical therapy may also entail other methods, such as thermal treatments and joint protection techniques. Heating pads and ice packs can help reduce pain and relax the muscles. With different joint protection techniques, you can reduce stress on your joints. Your physical therapist may even recommend assistive devices, such as sock grippers or bath stools in the shower.
The key to the best outcome from physical therapy is to learn the exercises that your physical therapist shows you and practicing every day at home. Consistency is important. How many times you’ll need to see a physical therapist depends on the severity of your condition. And if you have a flare up, you can return to change your treatment strategy or to update your exercise program.
There’s no reason to let arthritis rule your life. Physical therapy will help you get back to your normal routine. Unfortunately, a lot of people think that physical therapy cannot help because they have arthritis. However, research continues to dispel this myth. Research has shown that physical therapy helps reduce pain and improve mobility. One study “compared patients with knee osteoarthritis who were treated in therapy with both manual techniques (stretching and knee mobilizations) and with exercises versus people who just did exercises at home. The patients who went to therapy had twice the pain relief and improvement of function compared to the people who did exercises on their own. This relief lasted when they were rechecked a year later!” That’s good news.