What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is inflammation that affects the joints and the tissues around the joints, including muscles and tendons. Although we usually associate arthritis with aging, even children and young adults can be affected.

Signs of Arthritis
The common warning signs of arthritis are pain, swelling, stiffness or difficulty moving one or more joints. Arthritis can come on slowly or suddenly.

Types of Arthritis
Currently, medical researchers have identified 127 types of arthritis. Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common forms of arthritis. Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, occurs when a joint wears out, as a person ages or after an injury. Rheumatoid arthritis is sometimes called "The Great Crippler" because it can cause severely deformed joints in addition to pain and swelling. Physicians believe the disease may be caused by microorganisms, autoimmunity (when the body's immune system attacks its own tissues) or perhaps even a combination of both. Some people inherit a tendency toward rheumatoid arthritis. Other common types of arthritis are fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoporosis, scleroderma, gout and Lyme Disease.

How can Physical Therapy help with Arthritis?
Exercise is an important part of arthritis treatment. Researchers have found that people with arthritis who take their doctor's advice to exercise usually feel better. Therapeutic exercise can increase the motion and the strength of arthritic joints. Exercise builds muscles and increases muscle tone, which helps to stabilize joints. Tendons and ligaments also gain strength when they're used. Even your bones grow stronger with weight-bearing exercise. Exercise helps you feel better in other ways too. Regular exercise improves heart function and decreases blood pressure. Many people who exercise regularly report that they sleep better and feel less anxious. Best of all, exercise stimulates your body to produce more endorphins for natural pain control. Exercise helps you stay active and enjoy life-even with arthritis