Arthritis is a form of joint disorder which involves inflammation of one or more joints. The most common form of arthritis is called osteoarthritis which is a degenerative joint disease. Osteoarthritis occurs as a result of an infection to the joint, age, or trauma to a joint. Osteoarthritis causes a person to experience impaired functional ability. The most commonly affected sites are the hands, knees and hips. The cause of osteoarthritis is unknown. The condition usually starts at middle age and normally affects all people by age 70 to some extent. This disease is often seen more in men than women. There are risk factors which include obesity, athletic overuse, and fractures. The signs and symptoms begin with gradual onset of pain at affected joint. These also include pain with weather changes, increased pain after exercise, stiffness, limited range of motion, and enlarged joints. Doctors can take blood in order to test to see if a person has osteoarthritis. Treatment is provided in order to reduce pain, protect the joint from further harm, and promote joint function. Physical therapy treatment may include heat or cold packs, therapeutic exercises, strengthening exercises, electric stimulation, body mechanics, and passive/active range of motion.

Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term autoimmune disease that presents chronic inflammation. The disease affects tissues and organs but mostly the flexible joints. Unfortunately, the etiology is unknown. Initially, the disease can occur at any joint but it is common in the smaller joints of the wrist, hand, foot, and ankle. A person with rheumatoid arthritis will experience periods of exacerbation and remissions. The disease is diagnosed through clinical presentation of the joints involved and presence of blood rheumatoid factor. Women are affected three times more than men. Onset usually begins between 40 and 60 years of age. Signs and symptoms include: pain and tenderness at joints, stiffness in morning, warm joints, increased fatigue, or low grade fever. The goal of physical therapy treatment is to reduce inflammation and decrease pain while promoting joint function. Interventions may include: heat/cold packs, active/passive range of motion, body mechanics, energy conservation, and joint protection education techniques.