I often joke with my clients and tell them that someone should change the name of arthritis to arthwrongis, because there is absolutely nothing right about it. Most times I get at least a chuckle and sometimes I get the, don’t quit your day job look. I think adding a little humor to serious issues can calm people’s nerves before getting to the serious business of relieving pain and figuring out how to function around this debilitating disease.
There are several types of arthritis. The two most well- known are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. At our clinics, a large percentage of our days are spent treating people with osteoarthritis or treating people that have had parts replaced or removed because of osteoarthritis. Because of this, I’ll take a moment to answer the most common three questions about osteoarthritis that we are asked as therapists.
Question #1- What is osteoarthritis? – Osteoarthritis is a disease caused by the wearing- away of cartilage and bone overtime. Pain from osteoarthritis stems from bone rubbing on bone and inflamed tissue surrounding the affected joint. This process can be accelerated by injury and high impact sports. My belief is, if you’re an active person, having some osteoarthritis is unavoidable.
Question #2- Can osteoarthritis be cured? As much as me and my right elbow would like the answer to be yes, the answer is no. Though osteoarthritis can’t be cured, once a person is aware of the process (if discovered early enough), the process can be delayed.
Question #3- Can I continue to live an active lifestyle now that I’ve been diagnosed with this disease? I find this question to be very situational. It completely depends on what an individual considers to be an active lifestyle. However, in most cases the answer to this is yes.
Being diagnosed with osteoarthritis isn’t a sentence to a sedentary lifestyle. It does mean that you are now faced with the challenge of finding ways to do the things that are important to you without causing yourself too much pain or accelerating the process. There are many ways to manage your symptoms and avoid accelerating the process, in fact, far too many to mention in this blog. The first step is to visit your doctor when you first experience the signs and symptoms of arthritis. Secondly, locate an occupational or physical therapist to help you maintain or return to the lifestyle you desire.