What Is Arthritis?

by HomeTownPT, January 9, 2014

You have undoubtedly heard of arthritis.  In fact, statistics suggest that if you are reading this you probably have arthritis to some extent.  But what exactly is it, what causes it, and what can you do about it?  First off, check out this picture:

arthritis

 

What is it?  When most people talk about arthritis, they are talking about osteoarthritis, which is a degenerative condition involving your joints.  This post will focus on osteoarthritis as this is far more common than rheumatoid arthritis.  The word arthritis is Greek and literally mean joint inflammation.  The Arthritis Foundation states that there are up to 100 medical conditions that fall under the umbrella term of arthritis.  As you see in the picture above, arthritis involves not only irritation, but the loss of cartilage.  And this occurs more frequently in weight-bearing joints like your hips and knees, but can also be found in your spine, hands, and really any joint in your body.  The major signs and symptoms of arthritis include pain, swelling, and joint stiffness or decreased motion.

What causes it?  No one is exactly sure why it happens, but there are many risk factors for developing arthritis.  You can develop this condition following an injury, from wear and tear on your joints through things your job or hobbies, and genetics can even play a role.  Another significant risk factor is obesity, as the more you weigh, the more pressure you put on your back, hips, and knees.

What can you do about it?  Don’t lose heart, there is something you can do!  While you can’t reverse the changes of arthritis, you can do many things to help slow the disease from progressing.  There are even things you can do to help prevent arthritis from starting in the first place!  Believe it or not, exercise is one of the best things you can do.  It may seem crazy that doing exercise can help those painful joints, but there is a mountain of research to support it.  That is where physical and occupation therapy comes in.  We can help to design you an exercise program that will help, and not harm, your effected joints.  We can get you back to doing the things you enjoy.  You don’t have to live with pain, give us a call.

For more in-depth reading, check out MoveForwardPT.com!