World Arthritis Awareness Day
Travis Nichols, Maximum Performance Physical Therapist
As physical therapists, we spend a great deal of time working with individuals who struggle with osteoarthritis and the impact it can have on joint pain and the performance of normal daily activities. A prevalent thought for years throughout the medical community and the general public is that osteoarthritis was a direct result of mechanical forces or stresses to the joint over time. Yes, mechanical stresses can play a role, genetics can play a role, and specific trauma to a joint can play a role. However, would it surprise you to hear that recent studies are shining a new light on how an individual’s metabolic health can impact joint health and that this may play a larger role than we once thought. It may also directly relate to the amount of pain someone with osteoarthritis experiences.
Think of it this way…the prevalence of osteoarthritis is steadily increasing in the United States, but as a society we aren’t necessarily becoming more active. What we are seeing is that obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, and type II diabetes continue to increase. These can all increase the level of inflammation within the body and this chronic inflammation within the body can have a direct impact on our joint (and tendon) health.
The good news is that we can impact our overall metabolic health by eating a clean and healthy diet and through regular physical activity that includes both cardiovascular exercise and strength training exercise. It is also important to consistently monitor our metabolic health through annual physicals and blood work with our physician where they can help track our blood pressure, cholesterol (ie: LDL and HDL values), and fasting glucose levels.
For many individuals with osteoarthritis, their joint pain gradually progresses over time. The thing they often don’t realize is that, during that time, they begin to avoid different activities, which can lead to a loss of strength. This can ultimately have a compounding effect on both their symptoms and function. This is where physical therapy comes into play.
We want to help add life to your days where you can participate in the activities you enjoy! If you are reading this and struggling with pain or have difficulty performing normal daily activities and don’t know where to start, please give us a call today and schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists. We can evaluate you and help build a treatment plan to help reduce pain and increase your function so you can work to improve your overall health and wellness.
This is a journey, and it doesn’t matter where you are on that journey, we can come alongside you and help you get back to feeling better and doing the things you love!