Essentially Arthritis is joint inflammation which can cause pain and stiffness in the body. There are a few different types of arthritis, but the main one we see in physical therapy are Osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis, sometimes referred to as OA or Degenerative Joint Disease, is the most common type of arthritis. This affects about 32.5 million of adults in the US according to the CDC. With this type of arthritis, the fat pads or cartilage between the joints, which act as a cushion to protect the bones have worn away. This is when you get bone on bone. This can cause bone spurs or osteophytes which will irritate the surrounding structures and cause pain. This type of arthritis is caused by wear and tear on your joints over time and you can start to get this at any age, but is more common the older you get.
However, physical therapy can help to give you tools to manage the pain and slow the progression. People tend to stop being active when they have it, but you shouldn't. Movement helps to lubricate the joints and reduce stiffness. Also ice will be your best friend, not heat, because ice helps to reduce inflammation compared to heat that increases it. In therapy, you will learn proper body mechanics for lifting and bending, as well as, strengthening exercises to build the muscles up around the affected joint to support them and stretches to increase your mobility.