Arthritis, which means “inflammation of the joints,” is a condition that affects more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children each year. In fact, it is the leading cause of disability among Americans. Common symptoms of this painful condition include joint swelling, pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion.

Left untreated, arthritis can be a debilitating condition which can greatly reduce the quality of life among sufferers. Luckily, physical therapy is oftentimes a highly effective treatment for arthritis and can benefit sufferers by reducing pain, restoring range of motion, and improving quality of life.

Common Types of Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of Americans daily. However, there are more than 100 types of this condition, each with a unique set of causes and symptoms. If you suspect that arthritis is the source of your pain, it is important to receive a clear, concise, and accurate diagnosis from a licensed professional. Below, you can read about some of the most common forms of this condition.

  • Osteoarthritis – Affecting nearly 27 million Americans, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in the world. It typically occurs in weight-bearing joints such as the knees, hips, feet, fingers, and spine. Common symptoms include mild swelling around the joint, limited range of motion, and clicking or cracking sounds when bending the joint.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – Unlike osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system response. Affecting the lining of joints, it can cause painful swelling that can eventually result in erosion and deformity of the joints. It commonly affects areas such as the hands, wrists, and feet and can lead to severe pain and loss of function if untreated. Common symptoms include tender and swollen joints, joint stiffness that is typically worse in the mornings or after inactivity, and even fever, fatigue, and weight loss.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis – Psoriatic arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis, is an autoimmune disease that attacks healthy tissue. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of people who suffer from psoriasis will end up developing psoriatic arthritis. For most people with psoriatic arthritis, the skin symptoms of psoriasis typically come first, and the joint symptoms show up after age 30. However, psoriasis is unpredictable, and the symptoms can come and go at any age. Common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include skin rash, joint stiffness, sausage-like fingers or toes, and painful, swollen joints.
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis – This inflammatory disease often targets the bones and joints of the pelvis and spine. While this disease is not as common as the other previously mentioned forms of arthritis, it is still a significant source of joint pain. As this disease begins to progress, it can result in the spine’s vertebrae fusing together which often results in a rigid, hunched posture. The most common early symptom of ankylosing spondylitis is pain and stiffness in the lower back or buttocks area. Over the course of months or years, the stiffness and pain can spread up the spine and into the neck. Pain and tenderness spreading to the ribs, shoulder blades, hips, thighs, and heels are fairly common as well.

While these forms of arthritis can be painful and debilitating if left untreated, there are many things that can be done to preserve joint function, mobility, and quality of life among sufferers. Educating yourself about the condition and its treatment options, maintaining a healthy weight, and routinely making time for and engaging in physical activity are essential for those who live with the symptoms of arthritis.

When it comes to addressing the symptoms of any type of arthritis and the complications that result from it, the professionals at Buffalo Back and Neck Physical Therapy are second to none. Contact us to set up a consultation so that you can explore the wide variety of physical therapy treatment plans that we offer to our clients in the Western New York area. Our staff of experienced medical professionals have the ability to assess the source of your shoulder pain and to devise a physical therapy plan that works for you.

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