(12/27/12) - It is estimated that one in three Americans have some form of arthritis or joint pain. “Arthritis is caused when the cartilage that cushions the bones softens and wears away, causing the bones to rub against one another,” said Dr. Michael Sutton, McLeod Orthopaedics Dillon.
"There are different types of Arthritis among adults. Rheumatoid, Traumatic and Osteoarthritis are 3 types," according to Dr. Sutton. "Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation that can cause damage to the cartilage and lead to cartilage loss, pain and stiffness. Traumatic arthritis can follow a serious injury which causes pain and limited function. The most common cause of joint pain and stiffness is osteoarthritis, which usually occurs in people 50 and older. Often, these individuals have a family history of arthritis.”
To protect your joints before more serious problems or long lasting damage occurs, follow these tips:
1. Move, move, move. Exercise helps strengthen muscles. Strong muscles keep your joints from rubbing against one another. Also, when sitting, change positions to decrease stiffness.
2. Maintain a healthy body weight. To reduce stress and pressure on your joints, aim for your target weight.
3. Practice good posture. Protect your joints by sitting or standing up straight.
4. Rest. When engaging in heavy activity, also take time to rest. Repetitive movements can place stress on your joints and cause wear and tear.
5. Lift and carry with caution. When lifting or carrying, use your largest and strongest joints and muscles. Avoid bending over and picking up heavy items. Rather, squat and lift using your legs. This practice will protect your smaller joints from strain and injury. Always ask for help when needed.
6. Listen to your body. Pain after an activity or exercise can be an indication that you have overstressed your joints.
7. Prepare for activities. Do not engage in activities for which your body is not prepared. When starting a new activity, start by conditioning your body for the activity, slowing working your way up to the next level.
8. Wear proper safety equipment. Choose safety gear that is comfortable and fits appropriately.
“When suffering from arthritis pain, the first approach to treatment is to try more conservative methods. Rest allows the injured tissues to heal themselves. Heat also eases pain. To reduce both pain and inflammation, your physician may suggest a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug or acetaminophen. In more advanced cases, you may require corticosteroid injections,” said Dr. Sutton.
“In addition, physical therapy can provide exercises designed to preserve the strength and use of your joints, as well as build strength in the muscles surrounding the affected joints,” according to Philip Verjans, MPT, Director of McLeod Dillon Rehabilitation Services.
“By increasing blood flow to affected areas, exercise can help ease pain and improve mobility in arthritic joints. A stiff joint will only become stiffer if it is not moved,” states Verjans. “Exercises that involve strengthening weak muscles can also ease more advanced arthritis. An arthritic joint undergoes added stress when muscles become weak or tight.
“When referred to physical therapy at McLeod Dillon, patients work with a skilled physical therapist. He or she will develop an individualized treatment plan consisting of pain relieving and anti-inflammatory modalities, such as heat, ice, electrical stimulation or ultrasound, as well as massage and joint mobilizations, and exercises to increase range of motion and strength,” explained Verjans.
“Physical therapists also design a home program specific to each patient’s goals and needs,” said Verjans.
“Surgery should be addressed if these methods do not help or if the case is more severe. The type of surgery depends on which joints in the body are involved,” added Dr. Sutton.
If you experience any of the following, you may suffer from arthritis:
□ You have pain or swelling in your joint(s).
□ You need assistive devices, such as crutches or a walking cane.
□ You have trouble reaching or lifting, raising your arms, bending your hip or legs, or picking up items.
□ You have trouble walking.
□ You can no longer do normal daily activities.
If you are experiencing arthritis symptoms, contact Dr. Michael Sutton to discuss ways to relieve your pain and stiffness. McLeod Orthopaedics Dillon is located in the McLeod