Did you know that 1 in 5 Canadians are impacted by arthritis? Arthritis is an inflammation in the joints that results in swelling and tenderness, which can affect one or multiple joints in the body. With several types of arthritis, along with multiple causes and treatment methods, this month’s blog will discuss everything you need to know about arthritis; from the causes, symptoms, and treatments to how our team at LiveWell can help!

1) Types of Arthritis

With over 100 different types of arthritis and over 6 million Canadians living with the disease, we’ll dive into the two most common types, along with the effects they both have on the body.

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis with more Canadians living with OA than all other forms of arthritis combined (four million out of the six million people living with arthritis have OA). It is a progressive disease that commonly develops after the ages of 50 or 60 and occurs when the protective cartilage within a joint begins to break down. This results in the deterioration of the connective tissues as well as changes in the underlying bones. These changes typically develop slowly, worsen over time, and can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. OA is a result of the body’s failed attempt to repair damaged joints and is known as the “wear-and-tear” disease that most commonly affects joints in the hands, knees, hips, and spine.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is also very common among Canadians, in which people often develop RA between the ages of 30 and 50. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect multiple joints within the body. While the body’s immune system normally functions to protect against infections, RA occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the lining of the joints causing inflammation in the affected parts of the body. This inflammation in the joints can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling, and can affect other organs such as the nerves, eyes, skin, lungs, or heart.

2) Causes of Arthritis

There is no single cause of arthritis. Different types have different causes, meaning the cause will vary according to the type of arthritis a person has. With that, arthritis can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Wear and Tear of a Joint (from overuse)
  • Age
  • Injuries
  • Genetics and Family History
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Obesity
  • Autoimmune Disorders
  • Abnormal Metabolism
  • Infections such as Lyme Disease

Most types of arthritis come from a combination of factors, however, there are also cases where the cause is unknown.

3) Symptoms of Arthritis

The most common symptoms of arthritis involve pain, stiffness, and swelling in one or multiple joints. These symptoms typically occur in the morning after getting out of bed or upon standing up after resting. Pain and stiffness also tend to worsen with inactivity and improve with physical activity, so the more you move, the better your symptoms will be. However, the pain and inflammation that stems from arthritis can also limit a person’s range of motion, so it’s important that you seek professional support to help mitigate your symptoms, as well as to improve your body’s full range of motion. Other symptoms that may occur due to arthritis include fever, weight loss, fatigue, and anemia.

4) How Arthritis is Diagnosed

If you’re experiencing pain and inflammation, booking an appointment with your primary care physician is a great first step. They will perform a physical exam to check for fluid around the joints, redness and warmth, as well as your overall range of motion in the joints. Documenting and analyzing your inflammation levels and bodily fluids will help pinpoint the type of arthritis you may have. Fluids that are commonly analyzed involve blood, urine, and joint fluid. Additionally, imaging scans can help detect problems within the joints that may be causing your symptoms. Imaging scans include X-rays, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic response imaging (MRI), and ultrasounds. Lastly, depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may refer you to a specialist if they feel it is needed.

5) How Arthritis is Treated

Arthritis affects everyone differently, so your treatment should be tailored to your individual needs. As the main goal of treatment is to reduce and manage the amount of pain and inflammation you are experiencing, along with improving the function of your joints, you may need to try a few different treatments to determine what works best for you. In general, treatment for arthritis usually includes a combination of:

  • Medication and Supplements
  • Physical Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Nutrient-Rich Diet
  • Regular Exercise
  • Weight Loss (If Needed)
  • Heat and Cold Compresses
  • Mobility Assistance Devices (Canes or Walkers)
  • Surgery

6) How LiveWell Can Help

Here at LiveWell, our team is dedicated to helping our patients cope with chronic problems and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We offer a variety of health and physical therapy services that can help treat arthritis, including:

Through our holistic approach to physical therapy, our team will provide customized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs. As we understand the effects that arthritis can have on the body, we not only want to help mitigate your pain but to also restore your mobility and get your body moving in optimal form. Through a combination of regular sessions at our clinics, home exercises, and proper education about your body, we will support you in getting your body back to its full range of motion, so you can live a healthy and pain-free lifestyle.

As arthritis is becoming increasingly common among adults, we hope this blog provided you with valuable insight regarding the causes and symptoms to be aware of, along with the treatments and ways in which LiveWell can help. Whether you’re experiencing pain and inflammation or simply looking to boost your health and wellness, our team can help bring your physical and mental health to its full potential. Contact us to book an appointment at our Lancaster, Waterloo, Driftwood, or Baden locations. We look forward to working with you!  

Want more lifestyle advice on how to improve your health and wellness? Contact our LiveWell Health and Physiotherapy Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Waterloo, or Baden teams for more information and to book your next appointment. You can also reach out to us by email or social media, and one of our team members will be more than happy to answer any of your questions! All of our practitioners have tips and expert guidance to help improve your health and overall quality of your life.