About Joint problems
Joints problems can be as a by-result of another injury or caused by inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or more degenerative processes such as Osteoarthritis. These types of condition can be very debilitating as an affected joint is most commonly caused by damaged cartilage tissue, the symptoms being stiffness, swelling and pain.
One of the early signs of rheumatoid arthritis is inflammation in the smaller joints, like the hands or feet, and are frequently mirrored on both sides of the body. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, tenderness and stiffness, often more pronounced in the morning. As the disease progresses, cartilage and bone can also become affected, followed by supporting tendons and ligaments, ultimately weakening the muscle structure in the body. The end result is limited and difficult movement which can feel very debilitating and limiting.
Osteoarthritis mostly affects cartilage in the body. This is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint and helps bones move smoothly over each other, absorbing shock of movement. In osteoarthritis, the top layer breaks down and ultimately wears away, causing the bones to rub directly on each other, causing pain, swelling and ultimately loss of motion in the joint. In worst case scenarios, bits of bone or cartilage can break away and float inside the joint space, which can cause much more pain and damage.
How Physiotherapy Helps
Physiotherapy will be part of the treatment solution in addition to other medication likely prescribed by your GP, which could include disease modifying drugs. Physiotherapy exercises will focus on range of motion and strengthening exercises as well as targeting inflammation and swelling reduction. The goal is to restore an easy, pain free movement and will often focus on peripheral areas to the affected joint in order to provide a strong stable platform off which the joint can perform normal function without pain and restriction.