Rheumatic diseases, such as osteoarthritis, affect millions of people in the United States and around the world. Osteoarthritis is characterized by the degradation of the cartilage surfaces of bones, leading to inflammation, decreased mobility and pain. Other rheumatic diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and osteoporosis. With physical therapy and treatment, however, there is hope and many people can now enjoy a normal lifestyle in which they’re able to manage their condition.

Symptoms Of Osteoarthritis

Symptoms of osteoarthritis will vary from individual to individual, but can include joint swelling and pain, crepitus (joint sounds with movement), joint stiffness and limited mobility, and limitations in performing basic tasks, such as walking, washing the dishes, or cleaning up the house. Many joints can be affected, including the neck, back, hands, hips, knees and feet.

While rest can reduce symptoms, it often is a short-term solution. Activity modification, medication, manual therapy, and therapeutic exercise are common treatments. When these fail, surgery such as joint replacement also is available.

Physical therapists are trained to evaluate patients with arthritis. If you have arthritis, the therapist will work with you to determine the best strategies for improving mobility, decreasing pain, protecting joints, and improving your ability to walk and move.