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Winter is as good of a time as ever to review a very common health condition that only projects to grow over the next 10 years.
Three Most Common Types
Osteoarthritis or OA is the most common form and oftentimes affects the larger weight bearing bones in the body including the hip and knee. It can be referred to as “bone on bone” because it is characterized by the wearing down of cartilage on the ends of two bones comprising a joint. Pain is felt as friction increases when the bones rub against each other.
Rheumatoid Arthritis or RA is an auto-immune disease in which the body’s inflammatory response kicks in and attacks the lining of joints. A very common area for this to occur is within the small joints of the hand.
Psoriatic Arthritis is one that affects both the skin as well as the joints. It is linked to the diagnosis of psoriasis. People will often present with red scaly rashes on their skin as well as swelling present within the joints under the skin. It is also very common in the hand as well as in the toes.
Diagnosis of OA, RA, and Psoriatic Arthritis can be made by a physician following a full systems review, physical exam, imaging including X-rays, and lab work. Oftentimes, a consultation to a Rheumatologist can be made in order to ensure proper diagnosis of Rheumatoid as well as Psoriatic Arthritis.
OA treatment options include conservative treatment as well as surgical treatment. Conservative treatment for OA includes utilizing braces as well as assistive devices in order to offload the joint when moving throughout the day. Physical therapy can be prescribed in order to strengthen the muscles surrounding the joint as well as to provide education to patients about how to safely increase physical activity levels. Surgical treatment of OA most likely will include either an arthroscopic surgery, an osteotomy, a joint fusion, or a joint replacement. Following surgical interventions, physical therapy can be prescribed to improve joint mobility, increase muscle strength, and assist a patient in returning to full independence with all their daily activities.
Treatment of RA includes use of medications as well as learning self-management strategies to improve pain level and function with daily activities. DMARDs (disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs) and biological response modifiers are two examples of medications utilized to slow the progression of RA and also prevent joint deformity. Self-management strategies can include weight loss as well as improving physical activity levels. Physical Therapy treatment to improve joint mobility, improve muscle strength, and provide education on proper physical activity levels can be beneficial to many people diagnosed with RA.
Psoriatic Arthritis treatment includes both skin and joint interventions. Possible medications utilized to treat Psoriatic Arthritis include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressive medications such as methotrexate. Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy can both be beneficial to treatment of psoriatic arthritis in order to improve muscle function as well as joint mobility.
As mentioned previously, Physical Therapy is a very common part of treatment when diagnosed with any form of arthritis. Patient-centered individualized Physical Therapy treatment at ATR can help you to manage your symptoms and get back to the activities you love!
To schedule an appointment with one of Advanced Training & Rehab’s St. Louis specialists call a location near you today!
Author: John Cichon, PT DPT