As of Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Do you or someone you know suffer from joint pain? Are you able to tell weather changes before the official weather report?
If this sounds like you, you may have arthritis. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are treatments to help decrease pain and control any related deformities.
About the author
Jamie Stevenson is the Occupational/Hand Therapist for West Valley Hospital. She completed her occupational therapy education and training in 1988 at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Wash. She has experience in skilled nursing facilities, outpatient rehabilitation, inpatient rehabilitation, home care, work injury management, and hand therapy. She has also been certified in Kinesiotaping. She appreciates being a part of a dynamic rehab team that is committed to growing specialized patient care at West Valley Hospital. She spends her time outside of work at the beach as much as possible with her husband, quilting, and traveling.
Actually, “arthritis” is not a single disease, but an informal way of referring to joint disease. Per the National Arthritis Foundation, “There are more than 100 different types of arthritis and related conditions.
When the joint symptoms of osteoarthritis are mild or moderate, they can be managed by:
balancing activity with rest
using heat and cold
engaging in regular physical activity
maintaining a healthy weight
strengthening muscles for added joint support
using assistive devices or custom orthotics
taking pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medicines
avoiding excessively repetitive movements
People of all ages, sexes and races can and do have arthritis, and it is the leading cause of disability in America. More than 50 million adults and 300,000 children have some type of arthritis.”
Arthritis affects women more than men and its frequency increases with age. Common symptoms include swelling and pain in the joints, temperature increase in the joints and joint stiffness. Arthritis symptoms may come and go and can vary in severity. Severe arthritis can result in chronic pain, inability to perform daily activities and may make it difficult to walk or climb stairs. Arthritis can cause permanent joint damage which may be visible, though often the damage may only be seen on X-ray.
Occupational/hand therapy can help a patient better manage the extreme symptoms that come with arthritis. Upon a referral from your doctor, a therapist can assess the source of pain, range of motion, strength, the functional use of the hand and help determine a plan of care. The therapist often will use heat or cold to help decrease pain symptoms and will educate the patient on how to use various available home modalities, as well as customize a brace or splint for better joint positioning. Patient education often includes the introduction to adaptive equipment or techniques for daily tasks, activity modification to decrease joint stress in the hand, and energy conservation. Exercises are often recommended to help keep the joints fluid.
With comprehensive care from a specially trained therapist, patients usually learn how to manage their arthritis and are able to continue participating in their favorite activities.
If someone you know is experiencing hand joint pain due to arthritis, remember that there is specialized care available. For more information, contact your primary care provider or call West Valley Hospital Rehabilitation Services at 503-623-7305.