Questions about arthritis are very common from patients that come to our clinic and there is often some confusion about what the condition is and how to best manage it.

It is important to note that there are many different types of arthritis and they can affect people in a lot of different ways. The two most common types we see are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition that affects the cartilage at the end of the bones where they form joints. While factors that increase the loading of joints such as increase in weight and previous injury or previous surgery can increase the chance of developing the condition it is now thought that genes and family history might also play a role

Usually people with osteoarthritis complain of stiffness first thing in the morning and general pain and joint stiffness. Diagnosis can be made through X-rays and MRI although often the clinical history and assessment is enough.

Studies have shown physiotherapy and exercise to be good treatments for osteoarthritis although more severe cases occasionally need surgery. Physiotherapy treatment is aimed at taking the pressure off the affected joints and may involve massage to the surrounding muscles, mobilisation of the joints, taping and a strengthening program.

Rheumatoid arthritis, although not completely understood, is an autoimmune disease where the body mistakenly attacks the joints. Where osteoarthritis usually affects the larger joints such as knees and hips it is more common for people affected by rheumatoid arthritis to have pain and swelling in the smaller joints of the body such as the wrist, hands and feet.

Diagnosis is often made with blood tests and medical treatment is often directed by a rheumatologist. Physiotherapy can be used to calm down the irritable joints and promote function with less pain and stiffness. This may be through a hydrotherapy and strengthening program as well as gentle joint mobilisation.

If you have any questions about any type of arthritis contact us at Powerhouse Physiotherapy, we are here to answer your questions and will work with you to develop a treatment plan that will help reduce your pain and improve your function.