What is Arthritis?
Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. Inflammation generally includes symptoms of redness, heat, swelling, and pain. Many different diseases can result in inflammation of the joints. Arthritis is, therefore, a general term that describes more than one hundred different diseases of the joints of your body.
In some types of arthritis, we can diagnose the cause of the disease, but in others, it is still unknown. Some types of arthritis occur suddenly, while others develop over time. Joints such as your back, neck, knees, hips, shoulders, and fingers are affected.
The diseases that cause arthritis can also affect muscle and connective tissue around joints. Some diseases may even damage other organs of the body, such as the kidneys, intestines, and heart. Due to the fact that the diseases inflame the joints, most arthritic conditions and related diseases involve chronic (long-term) pain. Over time, they may cause increasing damage to the joints or soft tissues of your body.
Your joints minimize stress and damage while you move. Nearly all joints of the body are synovial joints. Most joints where two bones come together and must move against one another to allow motion are synovial joints. Smooth, slick articular cartilage covers the end of the bones so the bones themselves don’t rub together. Synovial fluid lubricates the joint and allows easier motion as well as helps to provide nutrition to the cartilage of the joint. The joint capsule forms around the joint. Small, fluid-filled sacs, called bursae, cushion parts of the joint where friction is particularly high. That could cause rubbing on bones, muscles, or other soft tissue. Ligaments connect the bones together and tendons connect the muscles to bones.
What Can Lead To Arthritis
A problem with any one of these parts of the joint can lead to abnormal biomechanics at the joint, resulting in pain, and eventually inflammation of the joints, namely arthritis.
Many people of all ages suffer from arthritis. Women comprise almost two-thirds of arthritis patients. But for some specific types of arthritis, the majority of patients are men. It is often painful to live with Arthritis, and sometimes, it may be difficult to treat. The method of treatment will vary depending on the specific disease. However, in nearly all cases, some form of drug management can be helpful. Physiotherapy is useful to assist in pain management. As well as to ensure that changes in biomechanics due to pain or the breakdown of the joints from the inflammatory process itself is kept to an absolute minimum. Maintaining range of motion and strength of your joints and muscles is crucial to living with an arthritic condition.
Physiotherapy in Hamilton, Stoney Creek, Grimsby, Mississauga, Brampton for Arthritis
At Complete Care Physio we can assist you in managing your arthritis. The exact treatment you require will depend on your illness as well as your individual needs. Our aim is to assist you in managing your arthritis and helping you to be as active as possible.
When you visit Complete Care Physio, your physiotherapist will begin by taking a complete history of your problem. You will receive a thorough examination of your affected joints. Your physiotherapist will ask you questions about the severity of your pain. They will also ask about when it began, what you were doing, and what movements aggravate or ease the pain. They will also want to know if you have had any investigations such as x-rays or other tests done. And if you have tried any other forms of treatment, such as medications, or simply even using ice or heat to decrease your discomfort.
Next your physiotherapist will do a physical examination of your affected joints. They will palpate, or touch, around your joints looking for signs and symptoms of arthritis. Symptoms include swelling, redness, heat, or areas of tenderness. Depending on which joints are involved your physiotherapist may want to look at how you sit, stand, walk, or even how you squat, or jump. They will then take specific measurements of any joints that are affected. Then they will determine the range of motion in your joints. If possible, they will measure each range of motion. Then they can determine if the range of motion changes decreases over time. Decreased range of motion is a tell-tale sign of progression of arthritis.
The Assessment Stage
Next, your physiotherapist will assess the stability of your joints to determine if there is any laxity of the ligaments or tissues of your joints. In some forms of arthritis this laxity can be a significant cause of the arthritis, and in other forms, the arthritic process itself causes the laxity. Too much laxity around the joints affects your alignment and the biomechanics of the joints. And that could end up adding extra pressure onto an already irritated joint.
Your physiotherapist will also check the strength and lengths of the muscles surrounding your joints. Muscles, if weak or too tight, can contribute to the forces applied to a joint. This can lead to further pain and contribute to poor biomechanics.
Finally, your physiotherapist will assess how well you control your joints. Proprioception is the ability to know where your joints are in space without having to look at them. As a result of any injury or arthritis, the receptors in your joints and ligaments that manage balance and proprioception decline in their function. If your balance and proprioception has declined, your joints and your limb as a whole will not be as efficient this can contribute to further pain and progression of the injury.
Once your physiotherapist has taken a thorough history from you as well as completed a physical examination, they will determine the best treatment regime for your individual problem. As mentioned above, some forms of arthritis affect many joints and even some of your organs. On the other hand, other forms may only affect one joint of your body. Therefore your treatment plan will need to be specifically designed just for you.
Determine The Treatment Plan
Your physiotherapist will discuss with you how much activity or rest is advisable in your individual case. Some forms of arthritis go through periods of flare-ups and at this time they require rest in order to be effectively managed. Other forms of arthritis do not respond well to limited activity, and actually improve if the joints are kept mobile and the patient continues to be active. If you are already an active individual, your arthritis may threaten to slow you down.
Our physiotherapists can discuss with you forms of cardiovascular activity that may be safe to continue. Often these activities involve non-weight bearing sports such as activities in the pool, or cycling.
Physiotherapy treatment at Complete Care Physio can also assist with any discomfort you feel in your joints due to the arthritis. We do suggest it if you notice that your joints respond well to ice or heat. Other modalities that we can offer, such as ultrasound or electrical, may also assist with managing your pain. Your physiotherapist may even suggest alternative treatments such as acupuncture. This can also assist in managing the pain of arthritic joints.
The range of motion in your joints inevitably will decline due to the arthritic process if you do not actively maintain the motion of your joints. Your physiotherapist will prescribe specific stretching exercises for you to combat this decline. Include these stretches as part of your home program. Your physiotherapist may even help to your maintain range of motion by mobilizing the joints. This hands-on technique encourages the joints to move gradually into their normal range of motion.
The Next Steps
Next your physiotherapist will prescribe the appropriate strengthening exercises to target any weak muscles that are affecting your joint function.Include these exercises as part of your home program. In addition, your physiotherapist will also prescribe exercises that challenge your proprioception. Improving this can ease the pressure on your joints and help to avoid any further injury.
Lastly, your physiotherapist will discuss the possibility of using braces or taping to ease your arthritic discomfort. Also is going to assist your biomechanics and alignment. Before you purchase an expensive brace, you can try taping on a trial basis. But because arthritis is long-term problem, you could purchase a brace if the tape was helpful. There are numerous braces and supports that can assist with joints. Also, depending on your need, your therapist can discuss it with you. If required, they may refer you to a specialist in supports, such as an Orthotist.
RESPOND TO TREATMENT
Most times arthritis, no matter which type, responds well to the treatment we provide at Complete Care Physio. There are times that some forms of arthritis may not respond as well, or may plateau in their improvement. This may be the case for you. In this case, your physiotherapist will liaise with your doctor regarding the appropriate ongoing management of your arthritis. Some cases may require referral to an Orthopaedic Surgeon to discuss the possibility of joint replacement surgery. This happens when the joint is too painful to manage, or if the joint alignment has progressed so far that it can’t function efficiently.