What Physical Therapy Can Do For Arthritis
Arthritis is a chronic condition that causes inflammation of the joints. It can cause pain, stiffness, and swelling. The hips, knees, hands, and spine are the most commonly affected joints. It is not a single disease but an umbrella term that includes a variety of different types. Some of the more common examples are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Also emphasized by Arthritis Foundation.
While physical therapy might not be the first treatment you think of for arthritis, it probably should be. A lot of people choose to use medication to manage their pain, stop activities that hurt, and wait for things to get bad enough to have a joint replacement. But this isn’t a great plan – all medications have side effects, even over the counter ones. Reducing activity leads to muscle atrophy and even stiffer joints. Even though joint replacement surgery usually has good outcomes, it does come with its own set of risks and a painful recovery.
Physical therapy has been extensively researched as a treatment for arthritis, and demonstrates good outcomes. Physical therapists typically start with exercise as the base for treatment. Exercise helps to regain lost joint motion, decrease feelings of stiffness, and strengthen muscles surrounding the affected joint. These benefits are all somewhat obvious. What surprises many people is that exercise has been shown to be as effective as medication for pain relief in many types of arthritis, without the side effects.
Physical therapy has more to offer people with arthritis than just exercise though. Education helps people understand their condition, what to expect, and how to manage it. As experts in human movement, physical therapists are especially good at helping people modify the way they perform certain tasks or activities to reduce strain on joints affected by arthritis. They can also suggest ways to modify the environment at work or home to reduce pain and improve function. They may also suggest things like braces, orthotics, or other devices that can help maintain mobility and reduce pain. On top of all of that, PT has been proven to be a cost effective treatment, too.
With so many techniques that are proven effective in helping people with arthritis, physical therapy is a recommended first line treatment for many types. Now that you have a better understanding of what PT can do, hopefully you’ll think of PT first when you think of arthritis too. Check for physical therapy near you.
Pain Relief for Arthritis
Arthritis Pain Relief – Waking up with stiff, aching joints could be a sign of early-onset arthritis, especially if the pain diminishes later in the day as you become more active. Far too many people resign themselves to living with painful joints and do not realize that the pain can be managed and even alleviated with the help of physical therapy and exercise. The types of exercises you can learn from a physical therapist can help you prevent further injury to the joints in day-to-day activities. You can also learn techniques for increasing your range of motion in affected joints. If you’d like to learn more about how physical therapy can reduce the pain and inflammation from arthritis pain relief, contact PREP Performance Center in Chicago, IL today and schedule an appointment.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition in which a single joint or multiple joints in the body experience pain and inflammation. It is the number one cause of disability in the United States and impacts more than 50 million people, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
There are two main types of arthritis that you’ve probably heard of. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that impacts more women than men. Rheumatoid arthritis is unique in that it can impact joints on both sides of the body simultaneously.
Osteoarthritis is the more common type, and that is what people usually mean when they say arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition caused by wear and tear on the cartilage in the joints.
People with arthritis usually experience stiff and sore joints first thing in the morning, which subsides after a little while. It can also cause pain during physical activity or work, which goes away after you stop doing that activity and rest. Arthritic joints can be sensitive or painful to touch, and they also tend to be noisy joints, causing popping sounds when bending.
Causes of arthritis
The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not well understood. It’s an autoimmune condition, meaning the body’s immune system has decided to attack the joints. Researchers believe it could be caused by a combination of a person’s family medical history, hormones, and environmental factors. Because it is caused by an immune response, it tends to impact the same joints on opposite sides of the body.
Osteoarthritis is more straightforward and easy to diagnose. A sudden injury to a joint can lead to arthritis in that joint later in life, even if you fully recover from the injury at the time. An example of this would be a football player who sustains a knee injury: he heals from the injury, continues his career, and then develops arthritis in that knee when he’s in his 50s. If you swing a hammer all day long as a carpenter for your career, you might develop arthritis in that elbow, or in the joints of your hand, due to the repetitive nature of the work. Arthritis is actually very common in athletes who put a lot of strain on their joints and also for people whose jobs require a lot of repetitive motion tasks. Being overweight can also lead to arthritis in load-bearing joints, such as the hips or knees.
Why does this happen? When a joint is in motion, the cartilage between the bones that cushions them wears down over time (or suddenly, in the case of an injury.) When the bones no longer have enough of that protective cushioning between them, it causes them to grind together, which causes the stiffness and pain of arthritis.
How physical therapy can help with arthritis pain
A physical therapist will work with you to determine the best course of therapy for your type of arthritis. Most people who suffer from arthritis can benefit from working with a physical therapist, according to WebMD. Exercise is an important part of any treatment plan for arthritis, but it has to be done correctly. Your physical therapist will work with you on weight management to avoid additional strain on your joints; posture to ensure that you don’t cause further injury to joints; and specific techniques for alleviating arthritic joint pain. Thermal treatments that include ice or heat packs may be a part of the process, combined with ultrasound or other techniques. The goal is to reduce stress on the joints with arthritis, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
If you’d like to know more about how working with a physical therapist can improve your arthritis symptoms, contact PREP Performance Center in Chicago, IL today to schedule an appointment!
Put yourself on the natural, healthy path to arthritis pain relief. Contact our physical therapy clinic today to schedule an initial appointment!