The term arthritis is used to describe conditions characterized by an inflammation in the joints or other areas of the body. Arthritis is most commonly found in weight-bearing joints such as the hip, knee and spine, but can also affect other joints such as the fingers.
Currently, 1 in 5 Canadians are affected by arthritis. While it is most common among older adults above the age of 65, arthritis can affect both men and women of every age and ethnicity. Risk factors for arthritis include age, sex (60% of women) and genetics. Other risk factors include obesity, physical inactivity, history of joint injuries, diet, smoking, infections and certain occupations requiring repetitive movements such as bending and squatting.
Arthritis can be grouped into two categories; osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis.
● Osteoarthritis, the most common type, results from the body’s failed attempt to
repair damaged joint tissues that can occur following an injury or as a result of ageing. Symptoms include pain, joint grinding, stiffness in the morning or after a period of inactivity lasting less than 30 minutes, swelling and reduced range of movement. Osteoarthritis usually presents in a single weight bearing joint such as the hip, knee, neck or low back.
● Inflammatory arthritis occurs as a result of inflammation due to autoimmune diseases rather than the breakdown of cartilage. Signs and symptoms of inflammatory arthritis typically include; pain, reduced range of motion, swelling and stiffness in the morning lasting at least 1 hour or worsening with inactivity. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss and fatigue. Inflammatory arthritis usually affects multiple joints and can be symmetrical or asymmetrical. Most commonly, small joints of the hands and feet, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, lower back and hips are affected.
Following a consultation with a Dr, physiotherapy treatment can be beneficial for individuals suffering from arthritis pain. Physiotherapists will provide safe exercises in order to promote mobility and strength at the muscles around the affected joints, decrease bone loss and stiffness and control joint swelling and pain.
References: Arthritis Society (2020). About Arthritis. Retrieved on November 22, 2020 from https://arthritis.ca/about-arthritis