For over 50 million Americans arthritis is an evil ‘A’ word. Arthritis is a term used to describe inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, often attacks the larger joints, such as hips and knees. If you or a loved one suffer from arthritis, it is important to learn more and understand the potential impact of the disease on your lifestyle.
Do I Have Arthritis?
Despite the growing number of people affected by arthritis, it can be tricky to diagnose because there are over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. Early symptoms may be confusing, but they should not be ignored:
* Joint pain and stiffness
* Limited range of motion
* Painful joint creaking or cracking with movement
* Tenderness in and around the joint
* Redness, swelling and warmth in the affected area
While the cause of arthritis is unknown, there are several factors that may increase your risk. Current research points to aging as the main cause. In addition to age, genetics, past injury, occupation, sports, and obesity are all risk factors for arthritis. The best way to prevent or delay the onset of arthritis is to choose a healthy lifestyle, avoid obesity, and participate in regular exercise. If you are asking “Do I have Arthritis?,” you owe it to your joints and overall health to find out.
How Can I Treat or Manage My Arthritis?
Arthritis treatment focuses on relieving pain and improving joint function. You may need to try several different treatments, or a combination of treatments, to determine what will work best for you. Medication and physical therapy are the most common treatments for arthritis. In severe cases, surgery is needed.
Your physical therapist (PT) can effectively treat your arthritis and in some cases may help you avoid surgery. Here are a few ways your PT can help:
* Following a thorough examination to identify your symptoms and determine which activities are difficult, your PT will design a treatment program to improve your movement.
* Manual (hands-on) therapy may be used to improve movement of the affected joint(s).
* Your PT will educate you on choosing safe and effective aerobic exercises to improve your movement and overall health. He/she may also offer suggestions to adjust your living space or work area to lessen the strain on your joints.
* If you are overweight, your PT will teach you an exercise program for safe weight loss, and recommend simple lifestyle changes that will help keep the weight off.
Myth #1: Only old people get arthritis.
Busted: Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65.
Myth #2: Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis.
Busted: While studies show cracking your knuckles may cause damage to ligaments surrounding the joints, there is no research to support that this behavior causes arthritis.
Myth #3: Exercise is bad for arthritis sufferers.
Busted: Avoiding exercise can actually be harmful and can cause loss of muscle. Exercising will help maintain the mobility needed to live a normal lifestyle and will strengthen muscles to support your joints.
Myth #4: Arthritis is not a serious health problem.
Busted: Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U. S. and a more frequent cause of activity limitations that heart disease, cancer or diabetes.
This article is provided by Allegheny Chesapeake Physical Therapy. To learn more about ACPT, check out thier website at www.aandc.com. Allegheny Chesapeake is also a member of a professional networking organization called the Pittsburgh Fitness Council. To explore thier website and learn more about their members, go to http://www.pghfitcouncil.com.