Hospital  >  Care Programs  >  St. John's Rehab Program  >  Patients and visitors  >  Health Resources

Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures

Arthritis

Introduction

Arthritis is a chronic, progressive degeneration of the articular skeleton. There are over 100 known types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Common characteristics include joint pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, weakness, tenderness and loss of balance.

Although many arthritis sufferers are older in age, it's not just a disease of the old. Some forms of arthritis affect children still in diapers, while thousands of people are stricken in the prime of their lives.

Suffering from arthritis pain or discomfort? Here are some things you can do:

  • Manage your weight:
    Proper nutrition and exercise is an important way to manage your weight. People who are overweight can sometime experience increased joint pressure or wear and tear.
  • Exercise:
    Working out your joints with range of motion, strengthening, and aerobic exercise can increase your energy level and help you manage joint pain and stiffness.
    Always consult your physician before beginning an exercise program, and stop if you experience increased joint pain more than two hours after exercise, increased joint swelling, unusual fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, or chest tightness or pain.
  • Protect your joints:
    Try using your strongest or largest joints during everyday activities. For example, if you're experiencing wrist or hand pain, consider carrying items using arm or shoulder straps. Avoid unusual joint positions, and use assistive equipment and splints when necessary.
  • Conserve energy:
    Teach yourself new habits or ways of performing activities that require less energy or effort. Place items in easy-to-reach locations. Schedule routine tasks throughout the week rather than trying to tackle all your chores at once. Schedule regular rest periods, plan ahead and pace yourself.
  • Specialized treatments:
    Many people with arthritis find benefits from treatments such as physiotherapy, pool-based hydrotherapy, massage, acupuncture and specialized medication. Speak to a physician or other health care professional for more information about these and other options.

Want to learn more? See also Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis