Most people, as they age, suffer from the symptoms of arthritis – although many may not recognise the condition or understand their ability to reduce the pain. There are two types of arthritis:
This is the most common form of arthritis and is typically associated with joint pain during activity and aches in changing weather. The exact cause is unknown, but is best described as a process of ageing in which the joint surfaces become ‘worn down’. This can be a result of workload over the years or a muscle/postural imbalance which, over time, has increased the wear on certain areas of a joint. A consequence of this joint degeneration is often increased stiffness from lack of use.
This type can present as rheumatoid, Psoriatic arthritis (linked to the chronic skin condition Psoriasis) or ankylosing spondylitis (targeting the joints of the spine).
What can be done?
As Physiotherapists, we can’t turn back time and fix those worn-out joints. But we can ‘fix’ joint stiffness, to a certain degree, as well as checking for any muscle imbalances that may be adding to the problem. Treatment may consist of manual joint mobilisation to stretch and lengthen tightened structures, and to release the associated muscles.
Research shows that patients with osteoarthritis benefit from regular exercise, however, these movements must be appropriate and should not leave you unable to perform normal activities. The Physiotherapist can advise you on the appropriate exercise for your condition, which may include: resistance training, a walking program, swimming or hydrotherapy. If you really want to improve those stiff joints, a home exercise program of stretch and strengthening exercises can also be prescribed.