RVNA Today: What is arthritis and who gets it?
Arthritis is very common and refers to joint pain or disease. It is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Risk factors include age, gender (more women than men experience it), genetics, weight, joint injuries or overuse, and infection. Common arthritis joint symptoms are swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. Symptoms can be mild to severe and can come and go. In some cases, the disease can progress and become debilitating over time. Often thought of as a disease that affects the elderly, 60% of the American adults with arthritis are of working age, 18 to 64 years old.
There are many different types of arthritis, the most common being osteoarthritis, a wearing away of the cartilage that cushions joint bones and can result in chronic pain and the potential need for joint replacement. Other forms of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, gout, and lupus. Some forms of arthritis can affect other organs and cause widespread symptoms. Arthritis often occurs with other chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and together they can make disease management challenging.
Appropriate treatment to reduce symptoms of arthritis depends on proper diagnosis as determined by a physical exam and other testing. At a minimum, a self-management education program, physical activity like walking or swimming, and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce symptoms and preserve joint function, mobility and quality of life. In more serious cases, additional treatments can include medication, physical and occupational therapy and surgery. Rehab by RVNA at 27 Governor Street provides physical, occupational and speech therapy on-site. For more information, call 203-438-7862.