Arthritis is characterized by the destruction of joint surfaces resulting in pain, joint stiffness and inflammation. There are 2 common forms of arthritis.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: a systemic problem that results in an inflammation of the fluid around the joint, ultimately damaging the joint.
- Osteoarthritis: a degenerative process that affects the cartilage at the joint surfaces.
Q: How is arthritis treated?
A: The therapy program for the conservative management of arthritis focuses on the following 5 main components:
- Educating someone who has arthritis on how to best manage this lifelong issue
- Decreasing pain and inflammation through the use of thermal modalities (hot and cold)
- Decreasing damaging forces on joints by aligning them properly with splints. Principles of joint protection will also be taught for daily activities.
- Improving range of motion through a comprehensive range of motion (exercise) program
- Improving function through the use of adaptive equipment and/or changing how something is done. This enables a person with arthritis to continue doing their favorite activities for years to come.
Q: How did I get arthritis?
A: About 3% of the population has rheumatoid arthritis, which is generally believed to be the result of an autoimmune reaction where the body begins to attack its own joints. Osteoarthritis is more common, with about 37% of people between ages 18 and 79 showing some evidence of arthritis. Osteoarthritis develops from changes in the joint cartilage.
Q: Will I ever get rid of arthritis?
A: Unfortunately, arthritis is a lifelong disease. It can, however, be managed by joint protection techniques, the control of symptoms and the use of medication.
Q: Why am I stiff in the morning?
A: It is not uncommon for people with arthritis to wake up in the morning with very stiff hands and joints. This is due to a prolonged period of inactivity while sleeping.
Q: How long will I be in therapy?
A: The length of a therapy program will vary. Typically one or 2 visits are sufficient to give someone with arthritis the tools to manage this lifelong disease.