With more than 100 types – each having unique causes and symptoms – arthritis is a complex, chronic condition for which there is no single treatment.
Risk factors including age, gender (most types are more common in women) and family history can increase your odds of getting arthritis. Common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis (OA): The most common form of arthritis, OA breaks down cartilage between bones.
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): Joint damage usually occurs on both sides of the body.
- Psoriatic arthritis (PsA): This combination of arthritis and psoriasis causes itchy, red patches of skin
Although arthritis isn’t always preventable, there are a number of steps you can take to delay the condition, reduce your risk of developing it, and to live better with it should you get it. ProHealth offers the following information on arthritis and how physical therapy can help manage it.
Although many people think arthritis prohibits exercise, physical activity can actually reduce pain and stiffness, and improve strength and flexibility.
To help patients improve their quality of life with arthritis, a physical therapist (PT) will develop a plan to build strength, balance and flexibility. Ultimately, the PT tries to assist the individual in being able to perform daily tasks to live as normally as possible. The best outcomes occur when the patient is committed to following at home the routine recommended by the PT – gradually strengthening the body.
The therapist may include the following in the treatment plan:
- Recommend options such as hot and cold therapy, braces, splints and shoe inserts to relieve stress and lessen joint pain
- Make suggestions on posture and body positioning to help relieve pain
- Familiarize patient with assistive devices including canes and walkers