Imagine you are in the middle of a walk around your neighborhood, and suddenly you find yourself in joint pain. It may just bother you a little bit, just to catch your attention. Or it is becoming difficult for you to continue walking, and there is a huge amount of pain in your joints. Perhaps, you wake up in the morning, to find your muscles extremely achy, making it painful to move around freely. Some of your joints could be swollen and painful. You show it to a doctor and may have found out to have arthritis.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more joints, that hurt during movement. The main symptoms are joint swelling, pain, and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. According to the CDC, “Arthritis commonly occurs with other chronic diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and can make it harder for people to manage these conditions.”
The two most common types e osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down while Rheumatoid is when the immune system attacks the joints. It is very common amongst America with over fifty million cases a year (23% are adults). In the United States, about 300,000 children face some form of joint disease, and 50,000 have juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA). It’s the most common form of pediatric arthritis.
What can one do?
There are many measures one can take to reduce Arthritis symptoms and overall improve quality of life. Your primary care physician or your rheumatologist may ask you to send for blood work on the rheumatoid factor. An orthopedist and/or rheumatologist will diagnose may confirm with an X-ray or MRI. Your physical therapist can identify the root of joint pain and can suggest some easy-to-follow and individualized pain-reduction strategies.
It is very important to be active, consult with a doctor of physical therapy to modify and avoid activities; that might cause joint injuries/irritation to the bones, and much more. Consult a nutritionist for suggestions on food recommendations. Sometimes avoiding certain foods and adding proper supplements may reduce your symptoms.
The longer it takes to recognize, the more severe the problem develops, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
Does Arthritis run in Family?
Some types of arthritis run in families so you may be more likely to develop arthritis if your parents or siblings have this disease. Your genes can make you more susceptible to environmental factors that may trigger arthritis (MayoClinic). Gender also plays a role because it is more common that women develop rheumatoid arthritis.
The struggle that follows up with Arthritis becomes very difficult to deal with. As each year the number of cases increases, more people fail to understand how to reduce their pain. Arthritis is a disease not discussed enough within mainstream media, especially in the field of sports. As stated before, it is extremely common in our country, however, many people don’t know the first thing that comes with this struggle. Understanding arthritis in athletes is that sports injuries can cause arthritis to develop within a person. A sports career has always been very risky health-wise, sports-injury-related arthritis is an added health risk.
Many extremely well-known athletes and celebrities who have had arthritis, even though in reality there are multiple that have spoken up about their struggles. Olympic gold medal cyclist Krisin Armstrong, basket ball player Shaquille O’Neal, Olympic gold medalist figure skater Dorothy Hamill are a few who have discussed how they balanced arthritis. Their story could truly inspire the fighters who are struggling daily with their arthritis pain. The arthritic pain should not stop from playing competitive sport.
Is there a cure?
Although it cannot be cured, many physical treatment methods will provide relief. Muscle-strengthening and conditioning will provide support to the painful joint. Your Physical therapists will teach you exercises and proper postures to help avoid uneven joint loading and muscle fatigue in common daily activities. If you need, then s/he will also teach you how to properly use assistive devices such as walkers and canes or braces and splints to support joints. Mostly s/he will teach you how to align the joints for ideal weight loading and to relieve stress on the affected joints. Hot and cold therapy to ease pain and stiffness. We at Jeevam Therapy can help you develop your personalized individual regimen to manage your arthritis at home.
Also, it is important to critique your environment for comforts, such as cushioned chairs or mats, there need for a balance of comfort and support for pain relief.
Some activities to keep in mind that are joint-friendly include walking, biking, and swimming. Being physically active can also delay worsening in your joints. Obtain a free guide from Mayo clinic to learn how to generally manage your arthritis. Let your Physical therapist guide you specifically on which activity is best for you to practice managing your symptoms.
Don’t mask any pain with pain pills, consult a doctor at the first sign of pain and stiffness.