Arthritis is a general term which refers to swelling and pain of a joint. There are several types of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease, is the most common form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage within a joint begins to breakdown, which ultimately affects the underlying bone and the joint around it. Many think of osteoarthritis as “wear and tear” of a joint. The most commonly affected joints are the knees, hips, and fingers. Common symptoms of arthritis are pain, swelling, and stiffness. OA can be seen on joint imaging, such as an X-ray, ultrasound, or MRI.
Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease. This means that your body attacks its own healthy cells by mistake, causing swelling. Whereas OA tends to affects very specific joints, RA is “global” and tends to the entire body. RA is commonly diagnosed with a blood test, and then patients are referred to a specialist.
Physiotherapy plays an important role in helping with arthritic pain. It is important to keep in mind that there is no “cure” for arthritis. But the swelling, muscles dysfunction, and immobility associated with arthritis can be greatly improved with physiotherapy. The goal of physiotherapy is to ultimately improve your mobility and restore the affected joint to its optimal function. The physiotherapist can accomplish this by assess the joint, and addressing discrepancies with very specific exercise, manual therapy (such as joint mobilization or massage), and education. Physiotherapy has been shown to have a positive impact of arthritis symptoms, help patients move better, and improve their overall well-being.
On occasion, doctors may recommend a cortisone injection (which is a type of injection that reduces swelling), or in the case of advanced arthritis, a joint replacement. Knee replacements and hip replacements are common and affective ways of dealing with arthritis.