Frequently Asked Questions About Arthritis

Frequently Asked Questions About Arthritis | Capitol Physical Therapy Orthopedics And Pain Management Washington DC

Most of the time, we think of arthritis as something that only affects older adults.

However, this condition is far more complex, and can affect younger people as well.

Regardless of whether you’re a senior or younger, our DC physical therapy clinic can help support you and work on addressing your arthritis symptoms.

We’ve talked at length about arthritis in the past, but we still hear quite a few frequently asked questions about arthritis.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of these questions today.

What Is Arthritis?

The term arthritis refers to a wide range of diseases.

Arthritis is a condition that affects our joints, and the tissues that surround these joints, such as muscles and tendons.

The name itself means “joint inflammation”.

It’s a chronic disorder, meaning that while symptoms can be relieved with treatment, those symptoms often last throughout our whole life.

Are There Different Types Of Arthritis?

Arthritis refers to over 100 different diseases and conditions.

Let’s have a look at some of the most common ones below.


Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis.

While it can affect people of any age, it most commonly affects older adults, and is a leading cause of age related disability.

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Osteoarthritis occurs when the tissue that cushions your joints breaks down or wears away.

This tissue is called cartilage.

Without cartilage acting as a cushion, the bones of your joints rub together, causing discomfort or pain.

Osteoarthritis can occur in any joint, and it commonly affects the hands, wrists, knees, hips, and spine.

Symptoms can include pain, tenderness, stiffness, and inflammation.

Physical therapy for osteoarthritis focuses on pain management and delaying the progress of this disorder.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that affects the soft tissue surrounding our joints.

Autoimmune conditions are when your body’s immune system attacks healthy tissue, rather than protecting them from potential threats or infections.

In rheumatoid arthritis, this results in a buildup of fluid around your joints, causing pain, stiffness, and chronic inflammation.

Rheumatoid arthritis commonly affects people in their midlife years, but can affect younger people as well.

The symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis can include:

  • Stiff joints, often worse first thing in the mornings
  • Painful, swollen joints on both sides of your body
  • Chronic fatigue
  • General discomfort
  • Low grade fever
  • Loss of joint function or range of movement
  • Redness, warmth, and tenderness in your joints

Rheumatoid arthritis is said to “flare”, meaning you can experience periods of more intense or worsening symptoms.

Or, it can be in “remission”, meaning you experience periods of little or no symptoms.

While there is no known cause for rheumatoid arthritis, several factors have been identified that may increase your risk of developing it.

These factors can include age, alcohol use, smoking, and having a parent with rheumatoid arthritis.

Women are more likely to be diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, but it can affect people of all genders.

If you are concerned that you may have rheumatoid arthritis, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor.

They can refer you to a rheumatologist for a diagnosis if necessary.

Whether or not you have a diagnosis, physical therapy for rheumatoid arthritis can help manage your pain and keep you able to perform your daily tasks.

Other Types Of Arthritis

In addition to the more common types of arthritis discussed above, there also are many others.

These can include:

These conditions all vary in severity, and require different approaches to treatment and management.

What Is Arthritis? | Capitol Physical Therapy Orthopedics And Pain Management Washington DC

Who Can Get Arthritis?

People of any age can get arthritis.

However, certain types, especially osteoarthritis, are more common in older adults.

As mentioned above, rheumatoid arthritis affects more women than it does men, but it still affects a wide range of people of any gender.

If you are concerned you may have arthritis symptoms, it’s always a good idea to speak to your healthcare provider.

How Do You Know If You Have Arthritis?

Joint pain, stiffness, swelling, and fatigue are all common arthritis symptoms.

However, those symptoms alone are not sufficient to determine if you have arthritis.

Speaking to a doctor can help to investigate your symptoms and rule out other medical conditions that may have symptoms which overlap with arthritis.

Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for further testing or investigations.

Regardless of whether you have a diagnosis, our team at Capitol Physical Therapy is here to support you.

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

There’s no evidence to indicate that cracking your knuckles directly leads to developing arthritis.

However, repeated injury to your knuckles or other joints can cause damage to the cushioning cartilage.

This can lead to swelling, pain, and potential long term degeneration.

How Can A Physical Therapist Help With Arthritis?

A physical therapist can create an individualized exercise program for you.

They can also help you to address lifestyle risk factors, which can help relieve your symptoms and slow the progress of your condition.

Your physical therapist may perform a thorough examination to determine your symptoms, and observe what activities are difficult for you.

Once this has been determined, they can design an individualized exercise program to address your specific needs.

This can include aerobic and strengthening exercise, as well as manual, or hands on, physical therapy to improve movement of the affected joint or joints.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

Arthritis, whatever form it takes, can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

Thankfully, if you have been diagnosed with arthritis, physical therapy offers a number of highly effective treatment options to address arthritis symptoms.

Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC