Occupational Therapy Used to Treat Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a common cause of chronic pain in the joints. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23.7 percent of American adults have a diagnosis of arthritis. Interestingly, adults who report having no leisure-time physical activity have a higher likelihood of developing arthritis.

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Many people think this is just a normal part of aging. Although it is more common in older age, it is not inevitable. The pain of arthritis is uncomfortable, and for some, extremely painful. The Jersey City arthritis pain specialists of Jersey Premier Pain offer a variety of treatments to help patients with arthritis say goodbye to pain and discomfort.

You should not have to miss out on the activities you enjoy because of the limitations that arthritis places on your life. Occupational therapy treatment is one of the ways we help our clients get back to the business of living the life they want to live.

What Is Arthritis?

The word arthritis is used to describe the pain, stiffness, and swelling that happens to a joint or joints. The key to developing an effective treatment plan is to determine the underlying cause of the arthritic pain when possible. While there is no cure for arthritis, treatments can greatly improve the pain and stiffness that affect your daily activities.

Symptoms can vary from week to week and in some people day-to-day. However, the right treatment approach can help manage your symptoms. Arthritis generally occurs when two or more bones meet in a joint. Common joints that are affected by arthritis include your fingers, knees, shoulders, and hips.

Types of Arthritis

According to the Arthritis Foundation, there are more than 100 different forms of arthritis. However, seven common forms are seen more frequently. These include:


This type of arthritis is sometimes called “wear and tear” arthritis as it develops in the joint cartilage that breaks down with repeated stress. This is the most common form of arthritis and is found more often in the hands, knees, hips, and spine. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain in the affected joints
  • Stiffness most noticeable when waking
  • Tenderness to light pressure
  • Loss of flexibility
  • Grating sensation in the joint, or popping and crackling
  • Bone spurs
  • Swelling

Factors that increase your risk of osteoarthritis include:

  • Older age
  • Women are more likely than men
  • Obesity
  • Joint injury
  • Repeated stress on a joint
  • Genetics
  • Bone deformities
  • Some metabolic diseases, such as diabetes or hemochromatosis (too much iron)

Rheumatoid arthritis

This is an autoimmune and chronic inflammatory condition that affects more than your joints, including your eyes, skin, lungs, and heart. Rheumatoid arthritis affects the linking of the joints that eventually may trigger erosion of the bone and deformity. Symptoms include:

  • Tender, warm, swollen joints
  • Stiffness that is worse after waking or inactivity
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

Up to 40 percent of people with rheumatoid arthritis will have symptoms in one or more other areas including:

  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Lungs
  • Heart
  • Blood vessels
  • Salivary glands
  • Kidneys
  • Nerve
  • Bone marrow

Psoriatic arthritis

This form of arthritis affects people who have psoriasis. Most people with psoriatic arthritis have the skin disease that causes red patches with silvery scales years before getting arthritis. This is a chronic disease that often worsens over time. Symptoms include:

  • Swollen fingers and toes
  • Foot pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Nail changes, including pits, crumbling, or separation from the nailbed
  • Eye inflammation, Uveitis (left untreated can lead to blindness)


This disease attacks the immune system causing inflammation in the joints, skin, kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs. The condition is often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic other health conditions. No two cases of the illness are the same, but common symptoms include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • Butterfly rash on the face
  • Skin lesions that get worse in the sun
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss

Because lupus can affect many areas of the body, there are several complications from severe disease, including:

  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Central nervous system conditions such as seizure, behavior changes, and stroke
  • Blood problems, including anemia, and an increased risk of bleeding
  • Painful breathing
  • Bleeding into the lungs
  • Cardiovascular disease


This is a common form of arthritis that often affects one or more joints, usually the big toe. The attacks are characterized by swelling, redness, pain, and tenderness. Symptoms also include:

  • Intense pain in the joint that is severe for up to 12 hours after starting
  • Lingering discomfort in the joint that can last several weeks
  • Later attacks can last longer and affect more joints
  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Limited range of motion

You are more likely to develop gout if you have high levels of uric acid, which can increase with:

  • Diet rich in red meat, shellfish, and beverages sweetened with fructose
  • Obesity
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease
  • Certain medications
  • Family history
  • Gender (men get gout, and women after menopause do, too)
  • History of recent surgery or trauma


Fibromyalgia is a musculoskeletal pain disorder often accompanied by sleep, memory, and mood disorders. Symptoms often start after a trauma, such as surgery, infection, or psychological stress. Primary symptoms include:

  • Widespread pain
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive difficulties

Ankylosing spondylitis

This is an inflammatory disease of the spine, which can make the spine less flexible and may result in a hunch in the upper back. When the ribs are affected it can make it difficult to breathe. Areas more commonly affected include:

  • Joints between the spine and the pelvis
  • Vertebrae in the lower back
  • Cartilage between the sternum (breastbone) and ribs
  • Hips and shoulders

Severe disease can cause complications, such as fusing sections of vertebrae in your back. Other complications include:

  • Eye inflammation called uveitis
  • Compression fractures
  • Heart problems

Occupational Therapy Helps Treat Arthritis Pain

occupational therapy

Occupational therapy helps people regain the ability to participate in their desired occupations or activities. Therapists use everyday activities to build strength and endurance, often in the upper limbs.

The focus of occupational therapy is to create an individualized plan that focuses on the client’s goals to perform specific activities or return to work. While physical therapy focuses on strength training and increasing range of motion, an occupational therapist focuses on activities such as making meals, driving, or dressing.

An occupational therapist also uses a specific exercise program to improve strength, but with the goal of completing a specific activity as well as managing pain. The best way to combat inflammation from arthritis is to use your joints appropriately so you reduce further damage. This includes your hands, shoulders, and back.

Call Jersey Premier Pain for Help to Return to Your Daily Activities

Our healthcare professionals understand that our patients need our services. We work hard to provide excellent care to everyone and to meet you with compassion. We are determined to provide each of our clients with safe, effective pain treatment options to meet their needs.

If you are living with the pain and discomfort of arthritis, relief is possible at Jersey Premier Pain. Our treatment options include occupational therapy to help you enjoy your activities of daily living. Schedule an appointment today to speak with one of our experienced pain specialists by calling 201-386-8800 or contact us online.


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