Arthritis is a general term which basically means inflammation of the joints. There are over 200 forms of arthritis and can affect anyone in any decade of their life.
The most common form is osteoarthritis, which occurs when the cartilage in the joints breaks down, usually because of wear and tear. Commonly found in the weight bearing joints i.e. hips, knees, ankles, and spine, and in the hands and wrists, it is characterised by pain and stiffness in the affected joint. Other symptoms can include ‘catching’, clicking, grinding or crunching noises, muscle wasting and weakness around that joint causing a sensation of giving way.
Treatment options recommended in the management of arthritis
The NICE guidelines (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) promote three core treatment options in the management of arthritis. These are:
- Education, advice and access to information;
- Strengthening exercise and aerobic fitness and weight loss if overweight or obese;
- A balanced, nutritious diet is also recommended.
Everybody’s experience of arthritis is different, but most people can lead a full active life with arthritis, by making a few modifications to their lifestyle, and by proper management of the condition.
Arthritis tends to have a pattern of flare-ups and remissions, making it difficult to determine how much activity is right. A health professional such as a physiotherapist can assist you in determining how much activity is right for you, and will guide you with regards to exercises and lifestyle changes.