Arthritis Overview

By Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist

Arthritis Overview

 

Arthritis overview is a general term describing over 100 conditions with different treatment options. However, by definition it is the inflammation of one or more of your joints. Arthritis symptoms typically develop over time and include joint pain, inflammation or swelling, and stiffness. The two most common types of arthritis are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Arthritis is most commonly seen in adults over the age of 65 but may develop in people of all ages. It is also more common in women and in those who are overweight. Treatments vary for each type of arthritis, so consult a physician or physical therapist to discuss the right option for you.

Causes of Arthritis

Osteoarthritis of the Hip

Hip Osteoarthritis and joint pain

While all forms of arthritis are the result of cartilage damage, the manner in which they are broken down determines what kind of arthritis is in effect. Click here to read about how osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis differ, and what symptoms to look for in each.

According to the Arthritis Information Sheet, Osteoarthritis (OA), also called osteoarthroses or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. OA is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. In other words, the breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other. Thus, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint.  Some possible causes are:

  1. Heredity
  2.  Overweight
  3.  Joint injury
  4. Repeated overuse of certain joints
  5. Lack of physical activity
  6. Nerve injury
  7. Aging or Advanced Age

Arthritis Complications

No matter what kind of arthritis is affecting you, joint pain is usually the first sign or complication that will arise.  The symptoms of pain or stiffness in joints after periods of inactivity or excessive use. Grating or “catching” sensation during joint movement and bony growths at the margins of affected joints. Arthritis complications may lead to other comorbidities as well.

Through this pain, the knee ligaments and knee joints can be damaged as well.

Arthritis of the spine

Pain in the back from Arthritis

 Arthritis Risk Factors

  • Genetics (sex, family history)
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Environmental exposure
  • Obesity
  • Joint injury
  • Repeated overuse of certain joints
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Nerve injury

Arthritis Symptoms:

  • With all forms of arthritis, common signs and symptoms include pain or stiffness in the joints, especially in the morning or after periods of inactivity. Some possible symptoms may include:
  • Swelling, warm to touch, & redness.
  • Painful popping or catching of the joint
  • Decreased range of motion.
  • Fatigue
  • Joint Tenderness
  • Several Joint are involved
  • Limping
  • Both sides are involved
Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Shoulder osteoarthritis

Knee Pain

Knee pain may be caused by arthritis because of the joint being broken down. Running while suffering from arthritis can also cause pain because of poor form and biomechanics. Another possible condition that may contribute to poor biomechanics are bunions.  Bunions are a painful deformity of the big toe.  Treatment of bunions can be conservative or surgical depending on the severity.

Treatment of Arthritis

There are several ways to treat Arthritis clinically.  Most physicians will try the conservative approach which includes physical therapy.  When the disease progresses, a surgical approach may be the correct approach for you.  Early intervention and an evaluation by a physician is always a good place to start.

  • Nonsurgical Treatment of Arthritis

  • At JOI, our occupational therapists offer a paraffin bath for hand arthritis.  It helps to relieve some of the joint pain or inflammation.  Another is option is the use of exercise programs to help you stay active and to lose weight.  Although not typically covered by insurance, acupuncture is a treatment alternative. It is important to work with your physical or occupation therapist to make sure you are doing the correct activities and exercises.  Each and every day, there are new therapies for the treatment of arthritis.  Laser therapy at JOI Rehab has certainly been helpful to decrease the pain and inflammation of arthritis.
acupuncture therapy

Acupuncturist inserting a needle into a female back.

 

  • Surgical Treatment of Arthritis

  • Cases of mild arthritis may be treated by arthroscopy. Although the procedure provides some relief from the pain, it will not eliminate the arthritis from the joint. If there is any progression, additional surgery may be needed in the future. A total joint replacement may be the next treatment option.  This surgery is when the arthritis progresses to where there is a loss of motion and pain prevents a patient from performing daily activities.  There are many types of total joint replacements based on your physician preference or your activity level.  Please do your research before deciding which is best for you.

Medications are another important treatment for arthritis.  Medications continue to evolve to treat the symptoms of the arthritis.  If you have questions about the management of your arthritis, you should set up an appointment with your physician.

Diagnosis & Tests for Arthritis

Test for Arthritis, or inflammation of the joints, can be in a variety of methods. Furthermore, physicians use X-rays to see bone spurs, bone deformities, and decreased joint spaces.  These can determine the severity of the arthritis. In addition, blood tests can rule out or confirm the presence of rheumatoid arthritis, or other rheumatologic diseases.  It is important that you see an Orthopaedic Physician if you think that you have arthritis in one of your joints.

Often, medications can help stop the progression of many forms of arthritis.  It is important to maintain good muscular strength in the joint which is painful.  The strength of the muscles can decrease the stress on the joint.  For the knee, it is important to maintain good strength of the quad and hamstrings muscles.

Related Articles: Robotic Spine Surgery JOI, Home Remedies for Arthritis, and 4 Top Exercises for Hand Arthritis. 

To learn more about Direct Access to Physical Therapy without seeing an MD, please read this ARTICLE.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment at JOI Rehab for physical therapy, go to: JOIonline.net or call 904-858-7045 .

Finally, to schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Specialist, Please call 904-JOI-2000.  You can also schedule online or click below.

By: Ehren Allen, Certified Manual Therapist/Physical Therapist

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