Arthritis is a disease that involves the extreme swelling of the joints. It can affect one or more joints in the body. The causes of arthritis are attributed to many things – genes, injury, obesity, improper diet, unhealthy lifestyles, a physically straining job/hobby, or it could be secondary to an autoimmune disease. Arthritis, if untreated, can lead to physical deformities and disabilities. It accounts for a majority of the causes of disabilities in America.
Types of Arthritis
There are many types of arthritis; each one has a different cause and different characteristics, like thinning cartilages, loss of fluid in the joint/s, or an infection in the cartilages covering the joint and bone. One type of arthritis called, ‘reactive arthritis,’ results from another disease and is only temporary. It goes away as soon as the disease that caused it is treated. The most common type of arthritis is Osteoarthritis (OA) which affects 27 million Americans aged 25 and above. OA can result from the wear and tear of joints as well as injuries on the joints. Another common type of arthritis is gout, a form of the disease that is largely caused by high levels of uric acid in the body which results in the formation of uric crystals in the joints thereby causing swelling. Symptoms of gouty arthritis can be eased with proper management of uric levels in the body, but it can be severely crippling if left unattended.
There is no cure for arthritis. Treatment for arthritis can only do so much to ease the pains from it and delay or lessen the severity of its often debilitating symptoms. Apart from treatment, people suffering from arthritis can benefit from physical as well as occupational therapy to help manage their disease and its onset of symptoms.
Physical Therapy for Arthritis
Physical therapy in arthritis patients ranges from restoring movement in the arthritic joints, strengthening the muscle around the affected areas, and helping ease the pain caused by the disease. Physical therapists also help educate the arthritis patients about the dos and don’ts of having the disease, how to properly move amid the pain and the swelling, how to avoid swelling, which activities to avoid to prevent aggravating the inflammation, as well as how to properly use movement aids and equipment like canes and walkers.
Arthritis patients are also advised to get occupational therapy to go with their physical therapy. Occupational therapists help the patients adjust their lifestyles as well as their working and living spaces to suit their condition. Occupational therapists also provide knowledge about external enhancements that would make everyday tasks like driving or cooking more easily manageable despite the prevailing arthritis.
With proper physical as well as occupational therapy, a patient will know the basic importance of regular exercise to avoid stiffness of the joint, proper sitting and lying positions to prevent triggering pains in the affected areas, as well as how to treat local pain with different techniques they can do at home.
Physical therapists help patients with arthritis live a good quality of life and avoid its debilitating progressions.