There are various types and causes of arthritis. The two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Osteoarthritis (OA): This form of arthritis is often referred to as "wear-and-tear" arthritis. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones wears down over time. As a result, the bones start rubbing against each other, causing pain, swelling, and decreased joint flexibility. OA usually affects weight-bearing joints like knees, hips, and the spine.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA): Unlike OA, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium—the lining of the membranes that surround the joints. This leads to inflammation, joint damage, and pain. RA often affects joints on both sides of the body, such as wrists, knees, and fingers.
Causes of Arthritis
The causes of arthritis can be multifaceted, involving a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. While the exact triggers can vary depending on the type of arthritis, some common causes include:
- Genetics: Family history can play a significant role in the development of arthritis. Certain genetic markers increase the risk of developing certain types of arthritis.
- Age: The risk of developing arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, increases with age due to the natural wear and tear on joints over time.
- Gender: Some types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, are more common in women than in men.
- Autoimmune Factors: Autoimmune responses, where the immune system attacks the body's own tissues, are linked to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
- Injury: Joint injuries or trauma can increase the likelihood of developing arthritis in the affected joint.
- Obesity: Excess weight places added stress on joints, increasing the risk of developing arthritis, particularly in weight-bearing joints.
Common Signs and Symptoms
Arthritis can manifest in a range of symptoms, depending on the type and individual differences, which may include:
- Joint Pain: One of the most prevalent and distressing symptoms, joint pain often worsens with movement and can hinder daily activities.
- Stiffness: Morning stiffness is a classic symptom, where joints feel rigid and challenging to move after periods of rest.
- Swelling: Inflamed joints exhibit swelling, often accompanied by warmth and tenderness around the affected area.
- Limited Range of Motion: Arthritis can impede joint movement, leading to a reduced range of motion and difficulty in performing tasks that once were routine.
- Fatigue: Chronic pain and inflammation can lead to fatigue, impacting overall energy levels and quality of life.
- Joint Deformities: Over time, arthritis can cause joint deformities, altering the shape and alignment of affected joints.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
The primary goal of physiotherapy when treating arthritis, is to improve joint function, alleviate pain, and enhance the patient's overall quality of life through:
- Exercise: Range-of-motion, strengthening, and aerobic exercises designed to enhance joint function and overall fitness.
- Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques to mobilize joints, improve circulation, and alleviate pain.
- Modalities: The use of various modalities, such as heat, cold, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation, for pain relief and tissue healing.
- Assistive Devices: Recommending and teaching the use of assistive devices like braces, splints, or walking aids to support joint function.
- Lifestyle Modification: Educating patients about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and adopting joint-friendly habits.
How Can Our Team at Manotick PhysioWorks Help?
Physiotherapy plays a pivotal role in the management of arthritis. Our team of Physiotherapists can work with you to manage your arthritis symptoms and allow you to return to your daily life!