How to Live Active with Arthritis: August 14, 2019

It’s a common, progressive condition that can cause people pain—even limit their daily activities. “Arthritis, or more commonly, what we most often deal with is osteoarthritis. It is typically a degenerative condition that is a breakdown of cartilage, and along with that breakdown of cartilage you tend to get a buildup of bone, or spurring of bone,” explained Karl Gilliam, a physical therapist with Lee Health.

Osteoarthritis can be age-related, injury-related, or genetic. The most common places to develop the condition are the knees, hips, hands, and feet. “When you’re dealing with a painful joint then a lot of times you make unnecessary or accommodations that can be debilitating or cause other injuries or harm to other joints,” he said.

But physical therapy can teach patients safe ways to stay active. “One of the best things for a joint that’s arthritic is for it actually to move. Some of the advantages of therapy and movement, in general, is that it helps to infuse the joint with some synovial fluid, which is like natural lubrication,” Gilliam said.

In addition to teaching patients safe movements, physical therapy can also educate patients on appropriate footwear, braces, and assisted devices, and how to protect the joint during physical activity. “Usually there aren’t ways to get rid of arthritis, but there are ways that you can either maintain your healthy lifestyle or improve it,” he said.

Maintaining a safe and active lifestyle can help patients manage their arthritis and prevent future injury.