In general terms, arthritis is a gradual breakdown or deterioration of the joint spaces in your musculoskeletal system. According
to some experts, eight out of 10 Americans over the age of 55 suffer from one form of arthritis or another. In many cases,
arthritis can become so painful and debilitating, simple tasks such as opening a jar or holding a pencil can be difficult.
Arthritis affects everyone in different ways. In some, joints in the spine, fingers, wrists, shoulders, knees-even
toes-lose their normal shape and large amounts of fluid and debris fill the joint space.
There are many causes
of arthritis. A major cause is simply age. Injury or suppressed or weakened immune systems are others. Some people have no
choice-it is simply hereditary.
In most people, the body responds to the onset of arthritis by making extra
bone. Your body makes this material in an attempt to shore up the degenerating joint. This additional material, or overgrowth,
is called a bone spur or osteophyte. Bone spurs are typically found in the joint or disc spaces, where cartilage has begun
to break down or deteriorate. Bone spurs sometimes block the spaces where nerve roots leave the spinal canal.
There are many symptoms of arthritis, including:
- Loss of muscle control
- Muscle spasms
- Stabbing pain in the
- Joint stiffness
Major types of arthritis include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The degenerative form of arthritis that mostly affects the elderly is called osteoarthritis. In some, osteoarthritis
may affect the spine's facet joints, making it extremely painful to bend or twist. Osteoarthritis causes the cartilage to
break down and away from the joints. Stripped of their protective material, the joints begin rubbing against each other, causing
pain and impeding movement. This action further irritates the surrounding nerves. Advanced forms of spinal osteoarthritis
can lead to disc collapse and other problems.
An equally painful and destructive form of arthritis is called
Rheumatoid arthritis causes inflammation of the joint tissues, leading to pain, weakness,
low red blood cell count (anemia), and loss of appetite.
Common exercises may include wall walking (which
targets the shoulder joints) and the chair rise (which strengthens your legs and makes standing and sitting safer). Good examples
of appropriate activities for those living with arthritis include aquatic exercises such as swimming, walking, bicycling,
Our arthritis patients experience reduced pain, restored mobility, function, strength and flexibility.