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Arthritis 101: Joints Move Pain-Free with Physical Therapy

Arthritis 101: Joints Move Pain-Free with Physical Therapy

Arthritis is a common group of diseases that refer to problems with the joints of the body. Many people have arthritis including over 50 million adults and 300,000 children in America alone. There are many different kinds of arthritis, however, two of the most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form that results in excessive wear and tear on our joints. There is cartilage on either side of the joint that to help the surfaces glide smoothly across one another.

With degenerative arthritis, this cartilage wears thin and can become painful. Some factors that could increase your risk for degenerative arthritis include carrying excessive weight, age, and a previous injury. Carrying excessive weight can overload the joint’s ability to disperse the load and result in degeneration of cartilage covering the joints.

Age is an important risk factor because most people over the age of 55 have some sort of arthritis, however it might not be problematic yet. A previous injury is something that most people do not think about. One of the more common injuries leading to knee osteoarthritis is an ACL tear. Since the ligament is not restricting movement, the bones are rubbing against each other excessively and could wear out the cartilage.

Physical therapy is a great conservative treatment option for osteoarthritis. Physical therapy can help educate people on how to stay active to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints take some of the extra stress away. Staying active can help maintain a healthy weight and continue to reduce symptoms of arthritis.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an inflammatory type of arthritis where the immune system attacks the joints with uncontrolled inflammation potentially damaging those joints, internal organs, even the eyes. RA is thought to be a result of both genetic and environmental factors, including diet and smoking.

The disease process can be slowed through the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs with the goal of remission. While in remission, physical therapy can be very beneficial to restore joint mobility, reduce pain, and prevent future joint damage.

Arthritis is a disease process that can be managed conservatively through physical therapy for mild and moderate cases. Therapy can remind someone that not all movement needs to hurt and regular physical activity can reduce the symptoms.

Some common signs and symptoms include enlarged joints that are typically warmer than the surrounding tissue, pain and stiffness in the morning that gets better throughout the day and stiffen up in the evening.

Physical therapy can help stretch tight muscles adding compression to the joint and strengthen muscle supporting the joint. Both of these act to decrease the stress on joints and allow more natural mobility. Physical therapy is a great way reduce the symptoms of arthritis and build confidence in your abilities to perform all of your daily activities.

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David Luckett, PT, DPT
David likes to try all of the wonderful outdoor activities California has to offer, especially a new found passion for cycling. He thoroughly enjoys hiking, rock climbing, snowboarding and golf. David is an avid sports fan and grew up playing many different sports which means he spends a lot of his down time watching sporting events.