Arthritis

QUESTION:  I have many of the symptoms of arthritis, is it okay to exercise?

ANSWER:

You must first find out if your symptoms are actually those of arthritis before I can safely answer your question.  There are several other conditions that share symptoms with arthritis such as:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Gout
  • Lupus
  • Post-Viral Arthritis
  • Seronegative Spondyloarthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Scleroderma
  • Pseudogout
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Vasculitis

It is essential to get a firm diagnosis of whether or not you have arthritis and what type of arthritis you have and then you can act on the answer received. Do you have other medical issues that may be a problem? Dr. Allegra spends time speaking with each patient at his office in Hazlet, New Jersey to understand their unique condition. With over 25 years of experience as an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Allegra is an expert at diagnosing pain and prescribing the most appropriate non-surgical interventions before surgery is recommended.

Many people fear that exercise will increase pain or inflame sore joints. In most cases, exercise can help you improve your overall health because it assists in weight control, strengthens your muscles around the joints, helps maintain bone health, improves balance, helps you sleep and have more stamina during the day. These are all big bonuses in the fight for fitness and wellness. In actuality, the lack of exercise can stiffen joints, make them more painful, and reduce range of motion.

BEFORE STARTING ANY EXERCIZE PROGRAM, LET YOUR INSTRUCTOR KNOW OF YOUR CONDITION AND LIMITATIONS SO THEY CAN TAILOR THE REGIME TO YOUR NEEDS.

Check with Dr. Allegra as there may be classes specifically for arthritis patients in close proximity.

The operative words to look for if you are looking for an exercise routine that will keep you safe and benefit you are:  GLOWS

  • GENTLE movements, nothing you do should cause you pain or stress joints.
  • LOW as in low impact exercises
  • OVERALL body exercises, not just your joints
  • WARM UP before you begin with hot packs, hot showers, stretching for about 20
  • SLOW and easy movements, increase gradually and take breaks.

Always ice for 20 minutes afterward to reduce the chance of swelling.

Typically, great exercises for arthritis sufferers include range-of-motion exercises, strengthening exercises, aerobic exercise, and other actions that get you up and moving. Gentle forms of yoga and tai chi are also known as Body Awareness Exercises. Water Aerobics are therapeutic and pool water is generally kept warmer at facilities that hold these. These are wonderful for encouraging relaxation, improving balance, fall prevention, as well as improving posture and coordination.

Need more information?  Dr. Allegra is a great source!

 

http://www.allegraortho.com/

Dr. Marshall P. Allegra

879 Poole Avenue, Hazlet New Jersey, 07730
Phone: (732) 888-8388

mallegra879@yahoo.com

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Know Your Knee Pain

The knee is a complicated joint. It enables us to bend and straighten our legs so we can sit, squat, jump and run.

Our knees carry us through life and are exposed to injury as well as normal “wear and tear” throughout our lifetimes, from the scrapes and bruises of childhood to arthritis pain and other degenerative conditions common in older age.

The knee joint has three parts. The thighbone (femur) meets the large shin bone (tibia) to form the main knee joint. This joint has an inner (medial) and an outer (lateral) compartment. The kneecap (patella) joins the femur to form a third joint, called the patellofemoral joint. The ends of the femur and tibia, and the back of the patella, are cushioned with cartilage, helping ligaments slide easily over the bones and protecting the bones from impact.

Knee pain is one of the most common complaints heard by orthopedic physicians. When one or more parts of the knee are injured, you may feel different types of knee pain.

Self-Care for Knee Pain

Knee pain that occurs from a relatively minor injury can often be safely observed for a day or two to see if self-care measures will be helpful. Self-care options include:

  • Rest Avoid more strenuous or painful activities, but keep active. Try alternate activities that cause less discomfort – swimming instead of jogging, bicycling instead of tennis
  • Ice Put ice on your knee for 15 to 20 minutes a few times each day. Use ice cubes or a bag of frozen vegetable wrapped with a towel
  • Compression Wrap an elastic bandage around your knee to help control swelling. Make the bandage fit snugly around your knee, but not tight enough to cause pain or leg swelling
  • Elevation Lying down with your knee propped up on pillows may help control pain and swelling
  • NSAIDS Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) may help relieve pain, swelling and inflammation

When to Schedule an Orthopedic Visit

Knee injuries commonly send people to the orthopedic physician. Make an appointment with an orthopedic physician if your knee pain was caused by a particularly forceful impact or if it is accompanied by:

  • Significant swelling
  • Significant pain
  • Redness
  • Tenderness and warmth around the joint
  • Fever

When to Seek Immediate Medical Attention

Call 911 or ask someone to drive you to the Emergency Department if your knee pain is caused by an injury and is accompanied by:

  • A joint that appears deformed
  • A popping noise at the time your knee was injured
  • Inability to bear weight
  • Intense pain
  • Sudden swelling

Top Ten Common Knee Injuries

Treatment will vary based on the cause of your knee pain and the specifics of the injury. Treatment may involve managing pain and inflammation, and rest. Trauma-induced injuries, such as fractures, dislocations and tears, may require bracing, popping the knee back into place, or surgery, which in many cases today, is minimally invasive so patients heal quickly and return to normal activities. Physical therapy may be needed to help regain movement and strength in the knee and leg.

Below are ten of the most common injuries of the knee:

  • Fractures
  • Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Meniscal tears
  • Bursitis
  • Tendonitis
  • Tendon tears
  • Collateral ligament injuries
  • Iliotibial band syndrome
  • Posterior cruciate ligament injuries

Arthritis of the Knee

Osteoarthritis of the knee is the most common form of arthritis in the knee. It is a degenerative “wear and tear” type of arthritis that occurs most often in people age 50 and older, but may occur in younger people, too. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage of the knee joint gradually wears away.

Long-term knee pain from arthritis can often be helped by weight loss and exercises to strengthen the muscles around the joint.

Seek medical attention immediately for serious knee injuries. Early diagnosis and treatment for chronic, or long term, knee pain or arthritis can make a world of difference in your quality of life.  Know your knees and recognize when it’s time to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic physician.

Lifestyle Changes To Manage Arthritis Pain

What you do or don’t do every day can have a major impact on your joints and the level of arthritis pain you experience. Arthritis is a leading cause of pain and disability worldwide.

Whatever your condition, you can work to stay ahead of your pain by:

  • Talking to your orthopedic physician about your symptoms, arthritis related or not. Sometimes seemingly unrelated problems are connected. Your doctor will know for sure.
  • Give your orthopedic physician complete information about your medical condition and medications, including over the counter medications and supplements.
  • Ask your orthopedic physician for a clear definition of the type of arthritic you have.
  • Find out whether any of your joints are already damaged.

Arthritis affects about 36 percent of obese American adults, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention. A healthy body weight is important to your body’s overall health, including your joints. Joints that are stressed by bearing the burden of excess pounds show more wear and tear, inflammation and stiffness, leading to arthritic pain.

Consider making these changes to help reduce your arthritis pain:

  • Exercise for at least 20 minutes every day to keep the pounds off and reduce arthritis pain and stiffness.
  • Eat a healthy diet of low-fat, low-calorie foods and plan your meals and snacks to be sure you are getting lots of fruits and vegetables through your diet.
  • Get plenty of vitamin C to help manage joint inflammation. Studies have shown that vitamin C may be helpful in managing inflammation, so dig into an orange or have a glass of grapefruit juice.
  • Manage your weight. Even a few extra pounds can worsen your arthritis pain, so talk to your doctor to determine your healthiest weight. Focus on that number as your goal, and track your weight loss until you reach it.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking causes stress on connective tissues, which leads to more arthritis pain.
  • Avoid alcohol. Don’t medicate yourself with alcohol to manage pain; it will only create more problems and add calories to your diet.

Schedule an appointment with a board certified orthopedic physician to get tips on exercise and other common concerns when coping with arthritis symptoms and arthritis pain.

Treating Arthritis

Arthritis literally means “inflammation of a joint.” A joint becomes inflamed, resulting in swelling, pain and stiffness. This is usually temporary although in arthritic joints, inflammation may cause long-lasting or permanent pain and disability.

Arthritis is a major cause of lost work time and serious disability for many people.

Osteoarthritis
The most common type of arthritis – osteoarthritis – results from overuse, trauma, or the degeneration of the joint cartilage that takes place with age. Osteoarthritis is often more painful in joints that bear weight, such as the knee, hip, and spine, rather than in the wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints.

Joints that are used extensively in work or sports or joints that have been damaged from fractures or other injuries may show signs of osteoarthritis.

In osteoarthritis, the cartilage covering the bone ends gradually wears away. In many cases, bone growths called “spurs” develop at the edges of osteoarthritic joints. The bone can become hard and firm (sclerosis). The joint becomes inflamed, causing pain and swelling. Continued use of the joint becomes painful.

Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-lasting disease, affecting many parts of the body, but mainly both large and small joints in the body and also the spine. Swelling, pain, and stiffness usually develop.

Women are three times more likely than men to have rheumatoid arthritis.

Diagnosis
Arthritis is diagnosed through a careful evaluation of symptoms and a physical examination. X-rays show the extent of any damage to the joint. Blood tests and other laboratory tests may help to determine the type of arthritis. Signs of arthritis include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Tenderness
  • Limited ability to move the joint
  • Signs that other joints are painful or swollen (an indication of rheumatoid arthritis)
  • A grating feeling or sound (crepitus) with movement
  • Pain when pressure is placed on the joint or the joint is moved

Medications
Over-the-counter and prescription medications are used to control pain and inflammation in the joints. Patients with ulcers, asthma, kidney, or liver disease may not be able to safely take anti-inflammatory medications.

Injections of cortisone into the joint may temporarily help to relieve pain and swelling. Repeated, frequent injections into the same joint may lead to undesirable side effects.

Viscosupplementation or injection of hyaluronic acid preparations can also be helpful in lubricating the joint. This is typically performed in the knee.

Exercise and Therapy
Exercises and physical therapy can decrease stiffness and strengthen weakened muscles around the joint.

Canes, crutches, walkers, or splints may help relieve the stress and strain on arthritic joints. Lifestyle changes that are the less stressful to painful joints may also be helpful.

Surgery
An orthopedic surgeon will recommend surgery for arthritis when nonsurgical treatment is no longer effective. When deciding on the type of surgery, the surgeon and patient will take into consideration the type of arthritis, its severity, and the patient’s overall physical condition.

There are a number of surgical procedures including:

  • Removing the diseased or damaged joint lining
  • Realignment of the joints
  • Fusing the ends of the bones in the joint together, to prevent joint motion and relieve joint pain
  • Total joint replacement

Living with Arthritis
In most cases, persons with arthritis can continue to perform normal activities. Exercise programs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and weight reduction for obese persons, can help to reduce pain, stiffness, and improve function. In persons with advanced arthritis, orthopedic surgery can often provide dramatic pain relief and restore lost joint function.

At present, most types of arthritis cannot be cured. Researchers continue to make progress in finding the underlying causes for the major types of arthritis. In the meantime, skilled orthopedic surgeons, working with other physicians and researchers, have developed many effective treatments for arthritis.