For Americans with arthritis, getting out of bed in the morning is a cumbersome task; tight muscles and painful joints can restrict movement until loosened. Arthritis is an inflammation of the joint, while osteoarthritis involves a deterioration of the joint, both of which affect our ability to move. This disease not only creates a day to day battle with pain to complete simple tasks such as bathing, walking and dressing, but also economic strain.
Three main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain, joint stiffness, the inability to move the joint correctly, and swelling that can last an excess of two weeks. The disease appears to be linked to wear and tear, usually affecting the joints that support the most weight and are the most frequently used such as the hips, knees, hands, fingers, spine, and feet. Osteoarthritis on the other hand can occur in nearly any joint of the body, specifically those who have had hard use. Though diagnosis with this disease typically means a long term struggle, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the impact it has on daily life.
Early diagnosis is key, as well as a customized treatment plan specific to the individual. Physicians diagnose arthritis based on symptoms, medical history, a physical exam, x-rays, and lab tests. Most treatment regimens include a combination of exercise, rest, use of heat and cold, joint protection techniques and sometimes surgery. Exercise, though initially may be painful is extremely important to keep the joints from stiffening, those with advanced arthritis may need assistance. Light weight lifting and aquatic therapy are also beneficial for those with arthritis as it helps gently strengthen the joint. An important aspect of physical activity in relation to those with arthritis is knowing your tolerance. Utilizing the help and advice of a physical therapist is beneficial to provide you with a variety of activities and an appropriate pace of progression.
Other things that help with easing the discomfort associated with arthritis are asprin, warm soaks, and heat lamps. Having good posture and correctly fitted shoes can also be helpful to those with arthritis. Ways to improve your posture are to walk as if balancing a glass of water on your head or as if your back needs to be as straight as possible. When lifting something, squat to provide an equal distribution of pressure, minimizing strain. When reaching for something turn your entire body rather than twisting.
Though arthritis is painful, with the right regimen of medicine and strengthening exercises it is a completely manageable disease. By following your doctors advice your body may very well be free from pain and the integrity of the shape of your joints can remain intact. Though your lifespan may not be affected by this disease, your quality of life will be, to avoid pain and progression of the disease be sure to be dedicated to your treatment program.
For help with arthritis relief call 516-568-4444 for more information!