Tag Archives: Arthritis

Insomnia – The Most Prevalent Form of Sleep Disorder

Insomnia, a most common sleep disorder, affects about one third of the American population and is classified two different ways. It can be classified by how long it lasts. Transient insomnia lasts for only a few days, short term lasts for a few weeks and chronic lasts for more then three weeks. The other way insomnia is classified is by its source. The main two classifications of this sleep disorder by source are primary and secondary.

Transient insomnia is experienced by most people at some time throughout their lives. It can be caused by stress such as worrying about the first day school or an illness in the family. Sometimes this sleep disorder occurs due to a disruption of their circadian cycle, which is a persons natural sleep cycle, caused by jet lag or a shift change at work. Transient insomnia goes away one the stress issue has passed. Short term insomnia is often caused by similar stressors as transient insomnia. If the sufferer of this sleep disorder cannot break the cycle of poor sleep, it often develops into chronic insomnia.

Primary insomnia develops without any obvious cause. Sometimes it starts as early as infancy.
Often it is the result of high metabolic rates or an overactive nervous system.

Secondary insomnia is the direct result of another cause. This sleep disorder can come from illness, medication, drugs or alcohol. Addressing the underlying cause of secondary insomnia often gives the sufferer relief. For example, if arthritis pain keeps you from sleeping, then treating the arthritis is the best way to cope with the sleep disorder.

Insomnia is not a single disorder. It is a general symptom and could have many potential causes. In order to qualify as a sleep disorder, insomnia has to meet three specific requirements. First, the person has to experience poor sleep in general, or have a problem falling or staying asleep. Second, if given the proper sleep environment and an adequate opportunity to sleep, the problem still occurs. Third, the result of the poor sleep causes some type of impairment while awake. Examples of an impairment are; fatigue, body aches and pains, inability to concentrate, mood changes, lack of energy, poor concentration, or developing an unnatural amount of worry about sleep.

Often insomnia is treated with medication, such as sleeping pills. These can be prescription medication or bought over the counter.

However, there are several other methods of treatment for this sleep disorder. Behavioral treatments include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, visualization, biofeedback, sleep hygiene, cognitive behavioral therapy and reconditioning sleep restriction. These methods are often very successful.

Some sufferers of this sleep disorder choose holistic, or alternative, treatment. This method involves the use of herbal supplements which are not usually FDA approved. Others seek acupuncture as a way to relieve their insomnia. Passive body heating, which is the use of hot baths, is another method used.

Understanding this sleep disorder is the first step to breaking the cycle of insomnia.

A Sleep Disorder That Affects the Legs – Restless Sleep

A Sleep Disorder That Affects the Legs – Restless Sleep Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome, known as RLS, is a sleep disorder that afflicts more than 15 percent of adults.
It affects more women than men and the incidence of restless leg syndrome increases with age. Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, arthritis and varicose veins, also increase the risk of developing restless leg syndrome.

This sleep disorder is characterized by an uncontrollable urge to move the lower legs, knees and occasionally the arms. Sometimes painful sensations accompany the urge to move. People that suffer from this sleep disorder describe the feelings and sensations in different ways. Many describe a tingling, itching or pulling sensation. Still others say it feels prickly or burns. Some feel as if they have worms crawling under their skin.

The sensations which are typical of this sleep disorder can occur anytime during the day or night.
Restless leg syndrome occurring at night has a devastating effect on sleep. The symptoms can cause the sufferer to get in and out of bed repeatedly which can delay or disrupt sleep. Since sleep in repeatedly interrupted, extreme daytime sleepiness is common.

The combination of always feeling tired and the symptoms themselves can cause a person with restless leg syndrome to alter their lifestyle. Long trips, movies, concerts and eating in restaurants are some of the activities they usually avoid. Attending a long meeting at work can become very painful and uncomfortable. People that have this sleep disorder often suffer from depression.

Researchers believe that restless leg syndrome may be caused by malfunctions of the pathways in the brain that controls movement reflexes and sensations. Often this sleep disorder has a genetic base.

Restless leg syndrome cannot be diagnosed by one single test. Often standard neurological examinations show no signs of an abnormality. In many cases, a doctor makes the diagnosis of restless leg syndrome based on the description of the symptoms. They also take into account family history, and the results of a routine medical examination and blood tests.

Many times the treatment for restless leg syndrome is aimed at controlling the debilitating sensations that accompany this sleep disorder. Often iron supplements are prescribed because severe anemia has been linked to this disorder. Relaxation techniques, diet changes and the elimination of caffeine and alcohol help some sufferers of restless leg syndrome.

In most cases, this sleep disorder is treated with drugs. These drugs could include dopamine agents, benzodiazepines, opioids or anticonvulsants. Medications do not cure restless leg syndrome, but they manage the symptoms. People that suffer from this sleep disorder usually have to stay on their medications for the rest of their lives.

Another sleep disorder similar to restless leg syndrome is periodic limb movement disorder known as PLMD. There are two main differences between restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder. Restless leg syndrome occurs when the sufferer is awake or asleep; periodic limb movement disorder only occurs when the sufferer is asleep. Restless leg syndrome movements are voluntary responses to very unpleasant sensations; the movements of periodic limb movement disorder are involuntary and are not consciously controlled. Both of these sleep disorders can be effectively controlled with medical treatment.

The Busy Field of Geriatric Physiotherapy

Clinics that specialize in geriatric physiotherapy never run low on work. The elderly have diseases and disorders in greater numbers than any other age group. Their care is difficult, but rewarding.

Geriatric physiotherapy became a specialty of physical therapy study in 1989. Since then, physiotherapists have worked to understand the problems of the aging. There is a long list of problems dealt with in geriatric physiotherapy.

Alzheimer’s, arthritis, balance disorders, cancer, cardiovascular disease, incontinence, joint replacement, pulmonary disease, stroke, and osteoporosis are only a few of the problems covered by geriatric physiotherapy. Physiotherapists have a whole range of therapies for these ailments.

The types of problems faced in geriatric physiotherapy are grouped into three different categories. One category is the problems that happen because the patient simply does not use their limbs or does not exercise. These problems can be addressed by reconditioning through range-of-motion exercises and other exercises.

Another category geriatric physiotherapy deals with is cardiovascular disease, like heart disease and stroke. The physiotherapy professional has an array of tools at her disposal to work with these conditions. Exercise, aqua therapy, electrical stimulation, and more can be used.

The third category is skeletal problems. Geriatric physiotherapy helps people who have these disorders, such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. These problems require special attention as osteoporosis makes patients frailer, and osteoarthritis is very painful.

Because falls are such a problem, the osteoporosis therapy is crucial. Along with that, geriatric physiotherapy is responsible for preventing many falls because of work with balance and gait. Some clinics focus entirely on balance issues for the elderly.

Much of the work of geriatric physiotherapy is not aimed at returning patients to their earlier states of health. The most important goals are to be able to function at their best abilities. Doing everyday tasks and living an unconfined life are valuable assets.

At the same time, geriatric physiotherapy can have a profound affect on a person’s ability to enjoy physical activities. Golf is an activity that many seniors enjoy. It can be a very hazardous sport for the elderly if they are not in condition to play. It does have many health benefits, too.

Geriatric physiotherapy can focus on physical training to get an older adult in shape to play sports like golf. This strengthens them in many ways. The fact that it allows them to play golf will make them even healthier, both physically and psychologically. Since depression is a growing problem among the elderly, any help they can get in this area is needed.

Another role of geriatric physiotherapy is to help with rehabilitation after knee or hip replacement surgeries. People who have these operations are likely to walk differently. It affects their abilities to do daily chores, and their quality of life. Physiotherapists can help.

Some people turn to physiotherapy as a means of better functioning. Others are referred to physiotherapy clinics by their doctors for specific problems. Still others end up in geriatric physiotherapy care in hospitals or nursing homes after accidents or illnesses. All of these people can be helped.

How Physiotherapy Fits in with Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

Rheumatoid arthritis is not only a painful and debilitating disease. It is also a risk factor for other diseases such as heart disease and osteoporosis. Research shows that these diseases can be held off by exercise and other lifestyle changes.

For the sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis, life is a constant learning experience. Each time a new movement is done, one finds out if it makes the condition feel worse or better. Rheumatoid arthritis patients may feel fatigue. They will likely have a great amount of pain and stiffness in their joints.

Physiotherapy is one way to combat the effects of rheumatoid arthritis. This will be an ongoing therapy that will require dedication over the rest of the patient’s life. However, it is common that the exercises and other therapies help the rheumatoid arthritis so much that the patient will have incentive to keep doing them.

A physiotherapist understands how all the parts of one’s body work together to create movement. Bones, muscles, joints, ligaments, and tendons: the physiotherapist knows how they all fit to make one walk or stand. With this knowledge, the physiotherapist can devise methods to help one keep moving. This is the most important part of rheumatoid arthritis treatment.

Early in one’s treatment, the plan will take shape. It will include ways to prevent rheumatoid arthritis from disabling one. As time goes by, the focus will shift to a more here and now sort of treatment. Exercises will be geared more towards current problems.

Water exercises can be used for people with rheumatoid arthritis. These exercises allow the person to get much needed strengthening and stretching exercises done. At the same time, there is little or no pressure on the joints or spine. Physiotherapists use water exercises as an important part of the treatment plan.

Strengthening exercises help the muscles provide more support to the joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis. If there is not enough muscle tone, the patient will have more trouble walking or doing other normal movements. The rheumatoid arthritis will dominate the movements instead of the muscles dominating them.

Heat therapy can be used in conjunction with ice therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. A physiotherapist can tell the patient when and how long to leave on heat packs or ice packs. Other heat therapy is done by ultrasound.

People with rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from manual procedures, such as massage. A person with the stiffness that accompanies rheumatoid arthritis can be very limited in how far he can move his joints. Massage improves movement and increases this range dramatically.

One of the most important functions a physiotherapist serves for patients with rheumatoid arthritis is as a motivational coach. The physiotherapist should be trained in the psychology of chronic disorders and pain management. She will be there to encourage you to keep trying, keeping moving, and never giving up.

Physiotherapy is only a part of the treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Diet and medications are also used, for example. Yet, without physiotherapy, many people who suffer from this disease would be in much worse pain.