Arthritis

Arthritis

What is arthritis?

Picture of elderly woman

Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are characterized by pain, swelling, and limited movement in joints and connective tissues in the body. According to the CDC, nearly 50 million people in the U.S. have some form of arthritis or chronic joint symptoms.

Arthritis, which literally means inflammation of a joint (where two or more bones meet), actually refers to more than 100 different diseases. Rheumatic diseases include any diseases that cause pain, stiffness, and swelling in joints or other supportive body structures, such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.

Arthritis and other rheumatic diseases are often mistakenly associated with old age, because osteoarthritis (the most common form of arthritis) occurs more often among elderly people. However, arthritis and other rheumatic diseases affect people of all ages and are more common in women than men. 

Arthritis is usually chronic, which means that it rarely changes, or it progresses slowly. Specific causes for most forms of arthritis are not yet known.

What are the parts of a joint?

Joints are the areas where two bones meet. Most joints are mobile, allowing the bones to move. Joints consist of the following:

What are the most common types of arthritis?

The three most prevalent forms of arthritis include:

Other forms of arthritis, or related disorders, include:

What are the symptoms of arthritis?

The following are the most common symptoms of arthritis. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of arthritis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How is arthritis diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for arthritis may include the following:

Rehabilitation for arthritis

An arthritis rehabilitation program is designed to meet the needs of the individual patient, depending on the type and severity of the arthritis. Active involvement of the patient and family is vital to the success of the program.

The goal of arthritis rehabilitation is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible while improving the overall quality of life--physically, emotionally, and socially. The focus of rehabilitation is on relieving pain and increasing motion in the affected joint(s).

In order to help reach these goals, arthritis rehabilitation programs may include the following:

Rehabilitation after joint replacement

The goal of hip and knee replacement surgery is to improve the function of the joint. Full recovery after joint replacement usually takes about three to six months, depending on the type of surgery, overall health of the patient, and the success of rehabilitation.

Rehabilitation programs after joint replacement may include the following:

The arthritis rehabilitation team

Arthritis rehabilitation programs can be conducted on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the arthritis rehabilitation team, including any or all of the following:

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