Arthritis is defined as joint inflammation. There are more than 100 conditions classified as arthritis which affect joints and the tissue surrounding them. The pattern,s everity, and location of symptoms can vary depending on the specific form of the disease. Arthritic conditions present with symptoms such as joint and muscle pain, swelling, stiffness, and limited range of motion. Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis in the elderly, is caused by degeneration of cartilage in a joint or trauma. It is associated with the aging process due to its progression with time and “wear and tear” on the joint. Osteoarthritis affects the large weight bearing joints such as the shoulders, knees, hips, and spine, and the small joints such as the hands.

An estimated 1 in 5 adults (46 million) and 1 in 250 children (294,000) are diagnosed annually with arthritis in the United State. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention predicts that the prevalence of arthritis will increase to 67 million adults by 2030. Northeastern Pennsylvania itself has a high aging population. Arthritis is a chronic illness and the most common cause of disability. Due to the symptoms and the cycle of the disease process, arthritic individual’s daily routines are impaired and limited.

It is important that individual’s diagnosed with arthritis do not just accept arthritis as “old age”. It is natural for the human body to degenerate due to the aging process; however it is not natural to stop performing your daily routine! As many baby boomers are in need of working past retirement, they must be proactive in their health in order to perform their occupations. Also, the mindset of aging Americans is the desire to age at home. Our aging nation needs to be educated on what services are available and where to turn for help in their backyard. For example: many older patients have a misconception of arthritis such as “I need to rest this arm because I have arthritis in my shoulder.” Research indicates that exercise decreases joint’s stiffness. A body in motion stays in motion! It is critical that aging adults understand how to live with arthritis in order to be part of the work force, remain independent in their home and community, and simply do the things they want and need to do.

Doctors often refer patients to occupational therapy and/or physical therapy practitioners to evaluate and treat each client’s specific needs and goals. Therapists are trained health care professionals who are committed to empower individuals with arthritis. Allied Services Integrated Health System is a leading provider of therapy services for northeastern Pennsylvanians seeking education to living with arthritis. Whether it is a new onset of an arthritic diagnosis or a recovery from a joint replacement surgery, occupational therapy and/or physical services are beneficial in the recovery process. Therapy services are available in several settings including inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation featuring aquatic therapy, skilled nursing, transitional rehabilitation, and home health.

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, prevent further joint damage, and improve function in order to carry out your daily routine. Although the underlying cause cannot usually be cured, therapy educates patients on lifestyle changes that can positively impact their life.