Last year I had the pleasure of working on a project with the Oregon Center for Disease Control on an arthritis campaign. It was a wonderful opportunity to present information to the public regarding this feared and often misunderstood condition. I thought I would share some of the information here, as there are various types of arthritis affecting a wide range of folks. Honestly, I see it everyday in my practice as a physical therapist; someone with arthritis comes in after enduring pain and disability for too long, having abandoned activities that at one point had brought them joy. It is estimated that one in four people are currently living with arthritis and if one of them is you, you know how painful it can be, and how much it can restrict your daily life.
Arthritis is the diagnostic name used to describe more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that affect joints, the tissues that surround joints, and other connective tissues in the body, and effects individuals of all ages. The rheumatic arthritis category falls under the auto-immune class, while osteoarthritis describes the “wear and tear” form.
The risk of osteoarthritis increases with age, and is more common among women than men. Many arthritis sufferers try a number of treatments to relieve the pain and improve their functionality, often with mixed results and with great frustration. Too often, my patients have been relying on over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers that only mask the pain and do not to change the basic structure of the muscle or joint.
The real answer to relief from arthritis symptoms and reduction in further disability is physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), physical activity decreases pain, improves function, and delays disability for people living with arthritis. Even moderate physical activity at least five days a week in 10-minute intervals can have a profound effect on the symptoms associated with arthritis. Swimming is a wonderful, low impact exercise, and a great way to maintain cardiovascular health. For arthritis suffers who don’t have access to a health club, YMCA, or other fitness facility, everyday activities like walking and taking the stairs can be effective forms of physical activity.
The CDC has launched a campaign (“Physical Activity. The Arthritis Pain Reliever”) to promote the fact that physical activity can be an effective way to manage arthritis pain, increase functioning for people suffering with arthritis, and prevent further disability.
To learn how increased physical activity could help with your arthritis symptoms, talk to your doctor about the best physical activity program for you.
If pain is prohibiting even small amounts of physical activity, see a physical therapist. Most states have an open access law allowing you to see a physical therapist directly, however some states require a prescription from a physician. Rarely do physicians deny a script to see a physical therapist because: 1) Physical therapy is a conservative treatment i.e.no drugs, needles, or scalpels and 2) Physical therapy is cost effective when compared to other measures.
You can also learn more by calling 1-888-845-5695 or visiting http://www.healthoregon.org/takecontrol or.