What is Arthritis?

Physiotherapy can help manage your arthritis, which is joint damage and swelling. There are two main types: Inflammatory arthritis and Osteoarthritis.

  • Inflammatory arthritis - e.g. Rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica. The joint lining becomes inflamed and can damage the surface of the joint and the underlying bone.
  • Osteoarthritis - The cartilage becomes thinner and damaged and extra bone can form at the edges of the joint.

Why does it happen?

There is no simple answer to this. Some people are more likely to suffer from certain disorders as a result of their genetic make-up. There are also a variety of ‘external’ factors that may increase the risk in those that are susceptible: previous injury, infection, smoking and occupations that are physically demanding.

Who is usually affected?

Arthritis affects people regardless of age, sex, race, class or country. It is a common problem world-wide. Over the space of a year in the UK, 9 million people will seek help from their GP for joint pain, although it is important to point out that most people will not have persistent or severe problems. Osteoarthritis is much more common than rheumatoid.


  • Persistent pain and stiffness in or around joints which has no obvious cause
  • Joint swelling/heat
  • Some forms of arthritis affect other parts of the body causing a rash or mouth ulcers for example
  • Joint deformity

What your Physiotherapist can do

  • Thorough assessment will help identify the affected structures
  • Provide hands on treatment, electro-therapy and acupuncture to help reduce pain and swelling
  • Teach you specific exercises to maintain range of movement and muscle strength
  • Advise you how to protect your joints and how to manage a flare up