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Arthritis – What you need to know

Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. These range from inflammation of a joint to the area around joints. The joint connects the bones and provides support and helps movement. The cartilage protects the joint which allows smooth movement. It also acts as a shock absorber when the joint is undergoing pressure like when running. Arthritis happens when the cartilage breaks down within joints. As the cartilage deteriorates, the joint is left unprotected and the bones rub together, resulting to pain, inflammation, stiffness and restricted movement.

One out of 7 Americans is afflicted by arthritis and is considered the number one cause of chronic disability in the United States. The projected increase of the aging population will mean higher incidence of afflicted Americans with arthritis. This fact is true even in Collingdale, Pennsylvania.

As people grow older, the bones get brittle and the risk of developing arthritis is greater. People most susceptible to arthritis are those who are overweight, have a previous joint injury and who put repetitive stress on an injured joint like ballet dancers and baseball players.

Arthritis has many forms and the causes are varied as well. Studies are ongoing to study the factors affecting the development of arthritis including genetics and lifestyles.

Symptoms of arthritis include joint pain and swelling, stiffness, warmth coming from the joint area, reddening of the skin around the joint, restricted movement of the joint, limitation in the range of motion and fatigue.

Even with these bleak facts, you can fight the adverse effects of arthritis with the help of your physical therapist as one of the many options you have to battle arthritis pain effectively. Fighting arthritis usually involve a multi-disciplinary approach which includes physical therapy. Your physical therapist can design a regular exercise program to keep the body flexible and mobile. Exercise helps to restore movement by reducing the related pain, increasing range of motion, and reducing fatigue.

Exercise will prevent stiffness and weakness of the joints and muscles. It will also help maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight puts additional force and pressure on joints, which helps arthritis progress more rapidly.

Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial in minimizing the painful effects of arthritis. Early treatment will go a long way in the prevention, minimizing and quite often, even reversing joint damage depending on the type or cause of the arthritis.

Even if you currently have no arthritis symptoms, take the appropriate preventative action now.