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Chronic Pain - Arthritis Fact and Fiction











Many patients will seek out the services of a multi-disciplinary rehabilitation clinic to treat an arthritic condition. Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Exercise Therapists, Podiatrists/ Chiropodists, Registered Massage Therapists and Acupuncturists are all specialists offering rehabilitative services aimed at chronic pain; minimizing inflammation and increasing mobility and flexibility.  Some patients with arthritis only affects one or two joints, and some will present numerous affected joints.  Arthritis can be caused by either injury or wear and tear and it can also be secondary to an autoimmune or inflammatory disease process that affects tissues, organs as well as joints. Chronic pain symptoms can range from mild discomfort to persistent ache, pain, deformity and partial or total lack of function.   There is an abundance of knowledge and information on how prevalent arthritis has become in our population.  The following information is derived from The Canadian Arthritis Society and reflects the most current demographic data:

Canadian Numbers on Arthritis

  • One in six Canadians (15 years and older) report having arthritis. That’s 4.6 million people and this figure is rising!
  • Two thirds of those affected by arthritis are women
  • Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in women and 2nd leading cause of disability in men
  • More than 10% of Canadian adults have Osteoarthritis.  This type of arthritis is typically caused by overuse, injury and wear and tear
  • More than 80% of hip replacements and 90% of knee replacements are needed because of joint damage caused by osteoarthritis
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune related arthritis like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis and Gout affect more than one million Canadians
  • 60% of Canadians with Arthritis are of working age (between 25 and 65)
  • $33 billion is the estimated cost of treatment and lost productivity

These are the facts.  Arthritis affects women and men, the young and the elderly, the active and the sedentary.  It is widespread and statistics indicate that it is on the rise and yet there persist several myths.

Myths About Arthritis:

MYTH:  Arthritis only affects the elderly: Arthritis is the most common chronic disease in children and the leading cause of disability for Canadians over the age of 15.

MYTH:  Arthritis is just aches and pains:  Arthritis can make daily activities of life like walking, climbing, reaching and bending difficult if not impossible. 

MYTH:  Exercise is bad for arthritis:  Exercise is a crucial arthritis management strategy.  Exercise strengthens the muscle and tissue that surround the joint.  The increased circulation feeds the joint with nutrition and promotes waste removal.  Exercise plays an important role in weight management; for each pound of weight loss, there is a corresponding four pound reduction in load on the knee joint.

Although there is no simple cure for arthritis, treatment should include a plan to minimize pain and promote and maintain joint health.  This treatment can take the form of lifestyle changes, exercise, stretching, medication and weight loss.  Physiotherapists, Chiropractors, Exercise Therapists, Podiatrists/Chiropodists, Registered Massage Therapists and Medical Acupuncturists can all play a role in recommending a safe, progressively challenging exercise program and can also provide effective rehabilitative treatment when it is needed.  Assistive devices like ankle, knee and back braces, supports, orthotics and footwear play a vital role in maintaining mobility, comfort and the prevention of further degeneration.  These rehabilitation specialists can advise the arthritic patient on ergonomic changes that can be made to home and work areas that can accommodate limitations in range of motion and joint function.  They will also advise on aids that assist in daily functions like self care, bathing and dressing.  These aids are particularly useful for patients with arthritis affecting multiple joints in the hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders. Mobility and stability devices like canes, crutches and walkers need proper instruction and sizing if they are to do more good than harm. 

CanadaPhysio is a multi-disciplinary full service rehabilitation centre with 7 locations conveniently located across Ontario, in Toronto, Scarborough, Whitby, Mississauga and London. Our trained service providers can provide you with education, exercise and treatment aimed at preventing further damage and injury with the goal of restoring you to optimal function.  



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