Arthritis is a family of musculoskeletal disorders that destroy joints, bones, muscles, cartilage and other connective tissues. Arthritis is usually categorized as either Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) or Osteoarthritis (OA).
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a form of inflammatory arthritis. In RA, the immune system attacks the body’s own tissue. As a result of the attack, fluid builds up in and inflames the joints. This joint inflammation can erode the protective cartilage, causing significant pain and loss of mobility.
In women, RA most commonly begins between the ages of 30 and 60. It often occurs later in life for men. The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not yet known. Genetic and environmental factors, infectious agents, female hormones, smoking, and stress, are all being studied as possible triggers of RA. Presently there is no cure for RA, though some experience long periods of remission.
Researchers have discovered that early diagnosis and early treatment is the best means of avoiding joint destruction, organ damage and disability. Physical Therapy treatments for RA aim to decrease fatigue, strengthen muscles and bones, increases flexibility and stamina, and improve your general sense of well-being.
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a chronic condition characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows easy movement of joints. With a breakdown of cartilage, the bones rub against each other, causing joint soreness, stiffness, and/or pain, deterioration of coordination, posture and walking, and rarely, sudden inflammation and redness. These conditions are more often found in the hips, knees and lower back, though they can also be found in the neck, fingers and toes.
Physical Therapy treatments for OA aim to control pain and other symptoms, and improve your ability to function in daily activities.