Millions of people are affected by joint pain or joint disease in the form of arthritis. Anyone can develop arthritis at any age in life. There are more than 100 different forms of arthritis, but the most common type is osteoarthritis, a degenerative arthritis.
Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage, the cushion that surrounds and protects the end of the bones, begin to wear away and the bones begin to rub against one another, causing pain and swelling of the joints. This often develops on weight bearing joints, such as the hips or knees, but it is also common to develop it in the wrists, hands, fingers, neck, or ankles as well. When osteoarthritis occurs, you may experience joint pain, swelling, stiffness, and a decrease in mobility and range of motion of the affected joint. Over time the joints lose their strength and the pain can become chronic, limiting daily activities and causing lack of restorative sleep at night.
Although anyone can develop osteoarthritis, there are some additional risk factors that can increase your chances:
When the joint symptoms are mild or moderate, there are some things that you can do to help reduce and manage the pain:
There is no cure for Osteoarthritis, but you can do things to help reduce and alleviate some of the pain that is associated with it, as well as help keep your mobility and range of motion of the affected joints. Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and staying physically active and allowing rest time is very important. Physical therapy can help give you exercises and stretches to do to keep you moving. Massage therapy is also a great way to reduce pain, anxiety, and increase your range of motion and quality of sleep in conjunction of other treatments. If you are starting to experience joint pain and stiffness, consult with your doctor to determine if you may be developing a form of arthritis and what step you can take to reduce the effects of it.
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.