What is arthritis?
Generally speaking, arthritis simply means “joint inflammation.” Cartilage, a lubricating tissue, helps provide smooth, comfortable movement of the joints. Cartilage does this by covering the bones and preventing bone-on-bone friction. There are over 100 conditions causing arthritis pain, the most common of which is osteoarthritis. This is a degenerative disease of the joints that causes a continued loss of cartilage. This often results in bones rubbing against bones, causing pain, swelling, stiffness, irritation, and restricted movement.
What causes fluid buildup in joints?
Joints use synovial fluid as a lubricant to facilitate smooth movement of joints. Arthritic conditions cause the breakdown of cartilage within a joint. These fragments of the tissue can float in the fluid-filled capsule surrounding the joint. This results in irritation and friction, which causes additional swelling. This of the reaction tear ducts have when the eye is irritated—they produce tears.
Do I need a cane or crutches for my knee/hip arthritis?
Walking with an abnormal gait results in additional joint damage. Some arthritic conditions cause patients to adjust their normal walk or makes them limp. A cane or other device may allow you to distribute some of the force away you’re your arthritic joint. Please consult your orthopedist before using a cane or other device.
Is a joint replacement inevitable?
For most patients, a joint replacement is one option to pursue once more conservative treatments have failed. In most cases, the longer patients wait to address joint pain, the higher the likelihood that a joint replacement will be necessary. This is because use of an arthritic joint without treatment often results in an increasing loss of cartilage and joint function. If your arthritis is causing deformity or bone loss, delaying treatment may make a joint replacement more complicated.
Is exercising good for my joints?
Usually, exercising is good for your joints. Although certain movements may cause joint discomfort, proper exercise can help strengthen supporting muscles, and nourish cartilage. This helps increase the function of your joints. Non-impact exercises are best, such as swimming. Water also provides resistance, which helps the body grow stronger. Low impact workouts like yoga or tai-chi are also good arthritic conditions. Before undertaking a new exercise regimen, it is best to consult with your doctor to ensure that you won’t cause any additional damage to your joints.
Is stretching good for my joints?
Stretching is a great way to maintain or restore normal joint motion. Tight muscles can lead to other conditions such as back pain. Flexibility facilitates comfortable movement during daily activities. Proper stretching also helps lubricate your joints with synovial fluid, which nourishes cartilage and may reduce arthritis pain. Stretching should always be performed gently, without forcing or pushing too hard.
Is it okay to use heat or ice for inflamed joints?
Treating your arthritis pain with heat will increase circulation and cause more blood flow around the area. Treating with ice causes the opposite to happen, reducing local circulation and swelling. Typically, it is recommended to heat before an activity to improve flexibility and motion, then to ice the area after an activity to reduce inflammation and swelling.