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Arthritis and self-help



Arthritis is the underlying cause of many orthopedic woes. As many as 36 million people in the United States have some form of arthritis or joint inflammation. Symptoms typically include joint pain which worsens with activity and weather changes, swelling, warmth, a "grinding" feeling and overall decreased function.

There are more than 100 kinds of arthritis. The most common is osteoarthritis, which advances with age, although younger people may develop it as a result of injury or overuse. Typically, osteoarthritis settles in the weight-bearing joints, such as the knees, hips and spine.

Physical therapy

Physical therapists at Baptist Health Louisville can help arthritis patients cope by teaching ways to perform daily activities that are less stressful to painful joints. Exercise -- important to relieve stiffness -- is encouraged. Aquatic therapy is available to help strengthen joints and improve flexibility.

Classes

The Arthritis/Fibromyalgia Program at the Baptist East/Milestone Wellness Center offers a Water Wellness program for strengthening, toning and stretching using full range of motion. A Beginning Masters/Arthritis class is also available, offering resistive training and balance work while participants are seated in chairs. Restorative Yoga is well-suited for individuals with arthritis or fibromyalgia, those who in rehabilitation, or have limited range of motion. All classes are free to Wellness Center members and available to non-members by purchasing packages of five or 10 classes. For more information, or to receive a class schedule, call (502) 896-3900, ext. 302.

A special, six-week Arthritis Self-Help Course, developed by the Arthritis Foundation, teaches the basics of pain control, exercise, medications and nutrition. The course is offered periodically at Baptist Health Louisville and is taught by physical therapists who are certified instructors. For more information, call the Baptist Health Information Center at (502) 897-8131.

Treatment

Treatment and medications may slow arthritis, but do not cure it. When treatments fail, a variety of surgical procedures, from arthroscopy to total joint replacement, are available.