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[Up] [Anatomy joints] [Types of arthritis] [Spondylosis] [Investigations] [Management  arthritis] [Physiotherapy modern] [Joint strengthening] [Exercises 1] [Exercises 2] [Newer medicines] [Questions answered]

 

 

 

 What is arthritis?   

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Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. 

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It causes pain and usually also limits movement of the joints that are affected. 

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There are many kinds of arthritis. A type called Osteoarthritis is the most common.

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Osteoarthritis is not an inevitable result of aging or of wear and tear of the joints.

 

 What happens when a joint is affected ?

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Normally, a smooth layer of cartilage helps the joint move easily and comfortably. 

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In some people, the cartilage thins as the joints are used. This is the start of osteoarthritis.

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Over time, the cartilage wears away and the bones rub against one another. 

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The cartilage in people with osteoarthritis degenerates abnormally. As osteoarthritis gets worse, the breakdown of cartilage happens faster than the body can repair it. 

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Bones may even start to grow too thick on the ends where they meet to make a joint, and bits of cartilage and bone may loosen and get in the way of movement. This causes pain, swelling and stiffness.

 

 Who gets osteoarthritis ?  

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Osteoarthritis is more common in older people because they have been using their joints longer. 

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Using the joints to do the same task over and over or simply using them over time can make osteoarthritis worse. 

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Younger people can also get osteoarthritis. Athletes are at risk because they use their joints so much. 

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People who have jobs that require the same movement over and over are also at risk.

 

  Is there a treatment ?

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No cure for osteoarthritis has been found, but you don't have to become disabled. 

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The right plan can help you stay active, protect your joints from damage, limit injury and control pain.

 

  Will my arthritis get worse ?

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Osteoarthritis does tend to get worse over time. But you can do many things to help yourself. 

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It is important to stay as active as possible. 

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When joints hurt, people tend not to use them and the muscles get weak. This can cause contractures (stiff muscles) and you can lose your range of motion-it gets harder to get around. This causes more pain and the cycle begins again. Ask your doctor to discuss pain control with you, so that you can stay active and avoid this problem. 

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How arthritis will affect you also depends on your total health. For example, being too heavy means your joints have to carry the extra weight. This can make osteoarthritis get worse faster and bother you more. This is especially true for arthritis of weight-bearing joints-like your hips, knees and spine. Losing weight could lessen your symptoms if you are heavy.

 

 Tips on staying active.

  • Lose weight if you are overweight. 

  • Exercise regularly in brief sessions.

  • Go to a physical therapist if you can.

  • Use assistive devices to protect your joints. 

  • Avoid lifting heavy things.

  • Avoid overusing your joints.

  • Don't pull on objects to move them -push them instead.

  • Take your medicine the way your doctor suggests.

 

 Will Medicine help ? 

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Medicine that reduces inflammation -such as aspirin or ibuprofen or pain killers-such as acetaminophen can help you feel better. 

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For most people, medicine that reduces inflammation is the most helpful. 

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Medicine should be used smartly. You only need the amount that makes you feel good enough to keep moving. Talk to your family doctor about what is right for you. 

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Watch for false "cures" that you may see advertised in magazines or newspapers. 

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Newer antiarthritic medicines are now available.

 

 Are special assistive devices or Aids really helpful ? 

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Yes. Special devices have been designed to help people with arthritis stay independent for as long as possible. 

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These devices help protect your joints and keep you moving. 

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For example, if you learn to use a cane the right way, you can help reduce the amount of pressure your weight puts on your hip joint by up to 60 %.

 

 Assistive devices or Aids. 

  • Canes.

  • Walker Splints .

  • Shoe inserts or wedges .

  • Non slip soles of shoe for traction 

  • Velcro fasteners on clothing .

  • Large grips for utensils (wrap foam or fabric around items with narrow handles, such as pens) .

  • Lightweight appliances-those made from aluminium or plastic rather than glass .

  • Wall-mounted jar openers.

  • Electric appliances, such as can openers and knives.

  • Mobile shower head Bath seats .

  • Grab bars for the bathtub.

 

 Will exercises really help ?  

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Exercise keeps your muscles strong and helps keep you flexible. 

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This will help you stay independent. 

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But don't overdo it. 

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Exercise in small amounts through the day with rest time in between. This will help you avoid injury and pain by not trying to do too much at once. 

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Exercises that don't strain your joints are best. These may include tightening your muscles and then relaxing them a number of times. You can do this with all of your major muscles several times throughout the day.

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Another good exercise for arthritis is movement in a swimming pool, with much of your body's weight held up by the water. You may find this type of "aquacise" program through a local YMCA, YWCA or other pool in your community.

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Ask your family doctor what programs are available in your area. He or she may also suggest that you see a physical therapeutical therapist to get you started.

 

 Should I use heat or cold ? 

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Using heat or cold may reduce your pain and stiffness. 

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Heat can be applied through warm baths, hot towels, hot water bottles or heating pads. Ice packs can also be used to help make you feel better. 

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Try alternating heat with ice packs. Some people find that using heat before activity and cold after activity is useful.

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Try different combinations and see what works best for you. Everyone is different.

 

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