Arthritis is a very common and debilitating condition that affects a majority of the population especially after the age of 65. The term arthritis… arthro=joint and itis= inflammation… is a broad term that refers to joint pain and/or joint disease and there are multiple different types of arthritis that exist in todays society. Today we will speak about the most common types of arthritis and some ways in which pain and everyday function can be managed and improved.
Arthritis can present with many signs and symptoms some of the most common including pain, swelling, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Symptoms can come and go and can range from mild, to moderate to severe in intensity. When severe arthritis hits, pain can become chronic, there is an inability to do daily activities, and it can become difficult to walk, or climb stairs. In some cases the joint changes can be seen such as knotting at the knuckles but more often than not the degeneration and changes can only be viewed via x-rays.
Two common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Today we will discuss both of these and provide some more information on managing these conditions.
Osteoarthritis is the degenerative form of arthritis and is very common in the general population. It is caused by the wear and tear of the cartilage on either ends of the bone and over time the cartilage can breakdown enough to cause bone on bone contact. This type of arthritis is more common in individuals over the age of 65 and is caused by everyday simple wear and tear of the joints. Aside from the simple everyday wear and tear osteoarthritis can be speed up by other factors including obesity, injury, overuse and genetic factors. Symptoms more commonly seen with OA include morning stiffness, swelling, cracking, popping or grinding within the joint and decreased range of motion. A hallmark sign is decreased stiffness and pain and increased range of motion within 30-60 min of movement.
Important measures that can be taken to help decrease the advancement of OA and help with the pain and discomfort include:
- balancing activity with rest
- regular physical activity
- maintaining a healthy weight
- performing strengthening exercises to increase the strength and function of the surrounding supportive muscles
- applying hot and cold therapies to help promote healing and decrease inflammation
- avoiding repetitive movements
Another common type of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory arthritis. With a happy and healthy immune system the body is protected from infections and foreign bodies that may do the body harm. However this is not always the case and in certain situations the immune system can back fire and mistakenly attack perfectly healthy joints with uncontrollable inflammation. In this situation joints of the body can experience pain, erosion and be ultimately damaged. Rheumatoid arthritis is more commonly seen in females around the age of 30-60 and can present very similar to OA. The major difference is that stiffness and range of motion does generally not improve with movement or exercises. With this type of arthritis early diagnosis and treatment is important to help slow the disease activity and minimize any permanent joint damage.
As mentioned above arthritis is a common condition that affects a large portion of the population. Steps and measures can be taken to prolong the onset of OA. Once OA has set in it can be managed well with conservative therapy, specific exercises and manual therapy that can be administered by a chiropractor. Arthritis can cause severe pain and discomfort but it doesn’t have to run your life so if you are experiencing joint pain or discomfort call in today to find out how we at Sunshine Valley Family Chiropractic can help you!