Arthritis means joint inflammation. The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis can affect anyone at any age.

Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease, results from wear and tear. Osteoarthritis is generally a gradual and subtle onset usually involving one or several joints. The joints most affected are knees, hips, hands and spine.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body's own immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium (cell lining inside the joint). Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic, potentially disabling disease.

Arthritis refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and other conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints. Other types of arthritic conditions include:

  • juvenile arthritis
  • psoriatic arthritis
  • fibromyalgia
  • gout
  • scleroderma
  • lupus

There are several interventions/treatments in managing arthritis. Regular exercise is strongly recommended for arthritis patients. Exercise can reduce pain and improve physical function, muscle strength, and quality of life for people whom live with arthritis.

People with arthritis should always discuss their exercise plans with their doctor. The amount and form of exercise recommended for each individual will vary depending on: 

  • Which joints are involved
  • The amount of inflammation
  • How stable the joints are
  • Whether a joint replacement procedure has been done

A physical therapist can help design and implement an exercise plan and program designed specifically for each patient according to their needs. A variety of different approaches in treatment can be used including physical treatments, gentle stretching, strength training, splinting, and aquatic therapy, among others.

A physical therapist can also educate and teach patients with arthritis about:

  • Pain relief methods
  • Proper body mechanics (placement of the body for a given task)
  • Joint protection
  • Conserving energy

Goals of arthritis treatment are:

  • Decrease arthritis symptoms
  • Slow progression of the disease
  • Prevent or minimize joint damage and deformities
  • Maintain joint function
  • Preserve mobility and range of motion

For more information, please contact the Human Performance Center at 701-560-8100 or 1-800-222-7858.
Ask St. Alexius if you have a specific question concerning arthritis. Your answer will come in the form of an email.