There are many different types of arthritis that affect people of all ages, ethnicities and gender. Arthritis does not affect only the elderly. In fact, more than three in five people diagnosed with arthritis are under the age of 65. Canadian statistics suggest that there may be slightly more women than men diagnosed with arthritis and Aboriginal Canadians have a higher incidence as well.
Of the more than 100 types of arthritis, there are two major groups. The first type is Osteoarthritis (OA) which is the breakdown of cartilage in the joints that causes the bones to rub together. Some forms of OA appear to be connected to genetics while others may have a relationship to injury, overuse and/or age. Normally pain, stiffness and eventually loss of use accompany this type of arthritis.
The second major category is Inflammatory Arthritis which is an autoimmune form of the disease. In this form of arthritis, the body’s own immune system attacks the joints causing inflammation and damage to an otherwise healthy joint. Within this category, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is the most common form. Others include Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Lupus.
There are many different treatments for arthritis including both medication and non-medication treatment. The medications selected depends primarily on the type of arthritis and the symptoms. With Osteoarthritis, common medications are nonsteroidal anti inflammatories, pain relievers such as acetaminophen, as well as steroids and opioids. Medications used to treat Inflammatory Arthritis often include disease modifying anti rheumatic drugs. The benefit of early intervention with these drugs, is that they may stop the disease progression in some cases resulting in less joint damage and disability.
Non Medication treatment for arthritis is a very important part of a well-rounded treatment plan. It takes into account the whole health of the individual and ensures that the body is as healthy and as strong as possible. This may include several key components such as healthy eating, getting the correct amount of vitamins and minerals, maintaining a healthy body weight, as well as doing the right amount and types of exercise. Also important, are ensuring that the home and work environments are accessible and supportive.
A physiotherapists intervention with a client having concerns about the pain and disability associated with a diagnosis of arthritis may include many options. A physiotherapist can prescribe the appropriate exercises for joint mobility and muscular strength, assess concerns about posture, provide education with the use of walking aids and possible bracing, and teach an individual to use modalities such as heat and cold at home for pain management. A physiotherapist may also be able to assist in the assessment of workplace and home ergonomics in order to create an optimal environment for the protection of the joints.
Please contact the Lavallee Health Centre to assist with your non medicine needs with respect to arthritis care. Our team of Naturopathic Doctors, Registered Massage Therapists, Physiotherapists and Nutritional Professionals would be pleased to help with any questions and intervention as required.