A: Many people complain of increased pain in their joints and spine because of arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a chronic degenerative condition that is predominantly caused by wear and tear on the joints in the body which leads to the breakdown of joint surfaces. This leads to a decrease in cushioning between the joints. With this decrease in cushioning, stiffness, loss of motion and pain can develop.
Degeneration is a normal aging process. If we live long enough, we will all develop some degree of arthritis. There are an estimated 27 million Americans living with arthritis today. Not all people who have arthritis have pain, and it is a common misconception that if you are diagnosed with having arthritis that you are destined to have pain. Usually, unless the arthritis is severe, there are other physical reasons why people are having pain. These reasons can include inflammation, tight muscles, decreased strength and loss of mobility in the joint with arthritis and the surrounding joints.
Physical therapists can help manage some of this pain by helping correct imbalances in the body, designing a home program of stretching and other exercises and using modalities as they are needed. Low-impact exercise and weight control are also beneficial in managing the symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe some medications to help relieve symptoms as well.
Information provided by Mike Burggraaf, PT, DPT, LAT, Core Physical Therapy Inc., 516 Nile Kinnick Drive S., Suite B, Adel, 993-5599.