Understanding Arthritis


With so many types of arthritis, it’s no wonder people are often confused in diagnoses related to bones and joints. Here are some definitions to clear the mud on the “medical jargon.” Physical therapists are experts on bones and joints and often work with physicians on treatment plans for patients that can involve both medication and therapy. If you have been diagnosed with arthritis and have questions, please ask one of our therapists.

Arthritis: a general term for inflammation at a joint. It causes swelling, pain and limited mobility.

Osteoarthritis: Wear and tear of the cartilage, which acts as joint protection between joint surfaces. All joints will have normal wear and tear, but may be accelerated or may be more painful with injury, weight gain, age and genetics.

Rheumatoid arthritis: A chronic disease that causes inflammation at many joints, and may affect other organs. It is considered an “auto-immune” disease in which the body is attacking itself in different ways.

Osteopenia: Decreased bone density and “bone thinning” due to more bone reabsorption than bone creation. This bone density loss does not meet the criteria for osteoporosis, and osteopenia does not necessarily mean that a person will develop osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis: Decreased bone density leading to porous and brittle bones. This disease will lead to increased fractures.

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