There are many forms of arthritis and each type of arthritis has its own characteristic symptoms. While there are many types of arthritis affecting every patient differently, there are also common signs and symptoms to watch out for:
Common Symptoms of Arthritis
- Inability to move freely
- Joint pain, stiffness, swelling
- Pain in areas around joints: typically, the hips, knees, spine, and hands Occasionally fever, fatigue, rash.
A majority of elder patients often present with the same complaint: limited mobility due to progression of the disease, leading to loss of independence, and often mood changes due to persistent chronic pain and seclusion. While there is no treatment to reverse the signs and symptoms of the disease, you should know about the following options to maximize quality of life and reduce pain.
- Range-of-motion exercises (e.g., stretching, dance) help maintain normal joint movement and relieve stiffness. Can be done daily.
- Strengthening exercises (e.g., weight training) help keep or increase muscle strength. Strength training can be done with small free weights, exercise machines.
- Endurance exercises should be done for 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week.
- Moist heat. To accomplish the desired effect, one can use: warm towels, hot packs, a bath, or shower for 15 minutes, two to three times a day to relieve symptoms.
- Water therapy can decrease pain and stiffness. Exercising in a pool may be easier because water takes some weight off painful joints.
- Mobilization therapies include traction (gentle, steady pulling), massage, and manipulation (using the hands to restore normal movement to stiff joints).
- Relaxation therapy also helps reduce pain. Patients can learn to release the tension in their muscles to relieve pain.
- Maintaining healthy weight, and adhering to age and disease appropriate exercise routines may also reduce the pain and improve the patient’s overall attitude.
Prior to starting any exercise or treatment regimen always contact your primary care doctor or your rheumatologist for advice!