Arthritis is a condition that affects many of us throughout our lives either directly or indirectly. September is Arthritis awareness month, and because our Foot Specialist (Chiropodist), Massage Therapist and Physio in our clinic in Oakville treat and help so many who are affected by Arthritis, we know that knowledge is very important. Arthritis is a condition in the body characterized by inflammation. It generally affects the joints of the body (where on bone meets up with another). There are many different types of Arthritis including Osteoarthritis (OA), which is related to wear and tear or the cartilage in joints and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which is associated with inflammation from an over-active immune system. Often times osteoarthritis (affecting the joint surfaces) is confused with osteoporosis (affecting the density of the bones).
Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common form of Arthritis. OA occurs when the cartilage (the protective coating at the ends of bones) begins to wear down. The cartilage in joints is important to absorb shock as well as to help in the smooth tracking of a joint. As the cartilage is damaged or worn down, it can cause pain, stiffness, swelling / inflammation in the affected joints. OA often affects knees, hips, spinal joints, and finger joints but can affect any moving joint in the body. Often people with OA will experience joint stiffness in the morning that lasts 15-20 minutes. During the day, depending on the person, joint pain can worsen as a joint stressed more. Arthritis pain can be cyclical because as the joints get more sore and stiff, a person may move less causing weakness in the surrounding muscles which makes the joint less supported. If a stiff joint is not moved than it may be even more stiff.
There is primary OA and secondary OA. In primary OA there is no obvious reason for the arthritis, it is thought to have a genetic component. In secondary arthritis there is likely a cause for joint damage with the most likely cause being prior injury to a joint.
Risk factors in developing OA (Osteoarthritis) include:
- Excess Body Weight
- Family History
- Extra Wear and Tear
- Complications from other types of arthritis
- Previous joint injury
Management for OA includes many complimentary options. There are many things, not including medications that can be done to help manage symptoms and prevent progression. Some things that can be done include range of motions exercises, strengthening, stretching exercises, heat or cold, various types of braces, hands-on treatment such as joint mobilizing, massage, proper footwear, custom orthotics, acupuncture etc. A Physiotherapist is able to help you not only with hands-on treatment when you are stiff and sore, but to set you up with exercises that are safe and best suited for your needs. A Massage Therapist can help loosen tight muscles, help decrease pain and help you relax. A Chiropodist is able to provide foot care and toenail care if you lack the range of motion or dexterity to safely do it yourself. A Chiropodist or foot specialist is also able to provide a biomechanical assessment and fit you if necessary for orthotics that are corrective and which excess or uneven pressure off of joints, in the lower extremity, that have arthritis. Living with Arthritis can be frustrating. The symptoms of Arthritis are something that can fluctuate. Your team of health care professionals can help you manage pain and function.
The Arthritis Society website provide many valuable resources regarding OA as well as other types of Arthritis – Arthritis Society.