Arthritis is a common and well known diagnosis. Although arthritis cannot be cured with conservative measures, many patients are able to avoid major surgeries, such as a total joint replacement, with physical therapy.
The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis can be described as the breaking down of the cartilage. Cartilage is the lining over the ends of two bones that make a joint. Symptoms of arthritis include pain, stiffness, swelling, and redness in the joint. You may notice your symptoms feel worse in the mornings and ease up throughout the day.
Arthritis is inflammation with a joint and can be triggered by a variety of factors, including weight, age, prior injury, “wear and tear”, or genetics. Carrying extra weight throughout the body places greater stress on the joints and as you age, your risk of cartilage breaking down increases greatly. “Wear and tear” is a common term used to explain overuse of a joint. For example, baseball players who play for years may develop arthritis in their shoulders or wrists. Having a prior injury may also predispose you to later developing arthritis.
Your physical therapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your mobility, strength, sensation, and ability to perform everyday functions, such as putting on a jacket or walking. Your physical therapist will ask you questions regarding your everyday life to better understand how your arthritis is affecting you and to determine which exercises would be most effective.
Treatment and Exercises
Your physical therapist will create a personalized program to create a program aimed to increase strength of the muscles surrounding the joint, improve stability of the joint, reduce pain, and teach you ways to manage the symptoms so you can get back to doing what you love.