Arthritis means “inflammation of the joint”. There are over one hundred different forms of arthritis which all share common symptoms.
Symptoms of Arthritis:-
- Joint pain
- Joint swelling
- Redness or heat in a joint
- Stiffness or difficulty moving a joint. This is usually most marked first thing in the morning.
The two most common forms of arthritis are OSTEOARTHRITIS and RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS.
OSTEOARTHRITIS (OA) commonly occurs as part of the aging process. The cartilage lining of the joints wears down in much the same ways as our car tyres do. Over time the cartilage surface becomes rougher and the cartilage itself weak and inflamed. The joint then narrows making it difficult to bend and straighten. Osteoarthritis usually occurs over the age of 45 but onset can be earlier, especially following trauma into a joint.
Factors which can affect osteoarthritis:-
- Previous fracture or injury into a joint increases the likelihood of arthritis
- Being overweight increases the stress through weight-bearing joints accelerating arthritic change
Rheumoid arthritis is an active inflammatory disease in which joint pain and swelling causes joint erosion and deformity. In later stage rheumatoid arthritis the joints may become unstable necessitating operative treatment (joint fusion or replacement).
Rheumatoid arthritis classically follows a pattern of active flare-ups when rest is required, and periods of remission when patients benefit from a physical activity programme to maintain and improve strength and flexibility.
The joint pain and swelling associated with arthritis causes secondary muscle weakness and tightness, further reducing mobility and, in turn increasing pain. This cycle of pain and reduced function needs to be broken.
How Can We Do This?
- EXERCISE ADVICE
Your physiotherapist can give you advice on activities which:-
- EXERCISE THE JOINTS
Keep moving as movement bathes the joints with synovial fluid improving lubrication (your joint’s “grease and oil change”).
- EXERCISE THE MUSCLES
Stronger muscles provide support, unloading arthritic joints. Flexible muscles contribute to reduced stiffness and improved ability with daily tasks.
Your physiotherapist will use a variety of techniques including joint mobilizations, gentle stretches, soft tissue massage and dry needling to reduce your pain and improve your function. Electrotherapy such as ultrasound and interferential therapy, as well as ice and heat are also often used to provide relief from pain and swelling.
At Keperra Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic we can advise you on a variety of assistive devices.
- Jar openers
- Kneeling chairs for gardening
- Reach extenders for picking up objects from the floor to help with everyday tasks
- Splints and supports to offload painful joints.