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.
If you’ve been to physical therapy, you likely got a home exercise program. Research says that if you do your home exercise program, you’ll have a significantly better chance of meeting your goals and feeling better. Not doing your program increases the risk of recurrent injury or flare-ups with less positive outcomes long term. Even though they’re important, adherence to home exercise programs is terrible. It’s estimated that only 40 to 50% of patients do their exercises the way they’re supposed to. What can you do to make sure you do your exercises and get the best outcomes? Here are a few ideas.
Think about what’s going to get in your way – your schedule, that you’ll forget, or that you don’t have the space or equipment that you need. Once you figure out the problems, come up with solutions. Put your exercises in your schedule, talk to your PT about equipment, or adjusting your program to fit the time you have. If you solve problems before they start, they’re no longer problems.
Address pain and beliefs
You’ll need to work with your PT on these. If your exercises cause pain, you’re not going to do them. When your PT prescribes your exercises, try them out. If there’s pain, ask your PT about modifications to make them more comfortable. The other thing might need addressed are your beliefs. If you believe that the exercises won’t help, or that they’re a waste of time, you won’t do them. Again, work with your PT to understand why they’re prescribing those exercises, and what they’re meant to do. Once you know why you’re doing those exercises, you’re more likely to do them.
People who have social support are more likely to do their exercises. This is why CrossFit and group exercise classes work. Find a family member or friend to help you stay consistent with your exercises. Your PT can help here too. Have someone ask if you’re doing your exercises, and how they’re going. This will keep you accountable and more likely to do them.
If you like technology and gadgets, they can help you be consistent with your exercises. There are plenty of apps that can track your exercise. Seeing that streak of days you’ve exercised will motivate you not to break it. Smartwatches and activity trackers can fill the same role.
Doing your home exercise program will help you get the most out of PT. With a little planning and a little help, you can make sure you’re one of the 50% of the people who do their home therapeutic exercises consistently to get the best outcomes.
How to elevate your heart rate? Heart disease is a leading cause of death and disability. This shouldn’t be a surprise – it’s been at the top of the list for years. You know that taking care of your heart is important. That means doing things like eating right, avoiding smoking, and exercising regularly. While all of those things can be difficult, today we’re going to focus on exercise.
How Physical Therapy can help with your heart rate and health
Cardiovascular exercise is anything that makes you breathe harder and your heart pump faster. That could be walking, running, dancing, biking, swimming or hiking. It strengthens your heart and blood vessels. It can help control weight, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and prevent heart disease.
If you’re regularly going for a run or swimming laps, you don’t need help from your PT. But 3 out of 4 adults aren’t exercising regularly. If you’d like to get started, your PT may be just the person to help you. It’s not uncommon to get injured, then never get back to your old routine. Your PT can help you deal with the old injury and design a plan to get you safely back to regular activity.
It’s also not uncommon to try to be more active on your own, only to stir up pain somewhere like your back, hip, knee or shoulder. Your PT can help with that too. They’ll figure out why you’re having pain, help you correct it, and get you a plan to reach your goals.
Physical therapists can also help you safely increase your activity levels after major medical issues like a heart attack, stroke, or even cancer. Recent research has shown improvements in cardiovascular fitness, fatigue levels and even pain in cancer patients who participate in a personalized physical fitness plan from a PT. See related article about Warning Signs of a Heart Attack.
Whatever your barriers to physical activity are, your PT can likely help you overcome them. Look for a physical therapy near me in Chicago. As movement experts, physical therapists are trained to deal with a variety of conditions. They’ll help you work around whatever issues you have so you can safely elevate your heart rate and keep cardiovascular disease away.
Searching for a good bargain? It’s no secret that prices have been going up. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive. The housing market is crazy. If you’re looking for ways to pinch some pennies or stretch your dollars, physical therapy might be just what you’re looking for.
Physical Therapy Saves Cost
A study that looked at the claims data of 472,000 Medicare beneficiaries with back pain found that when PT was the first treatment, costs were 19% lower than when people got injections first and 75% lower than for people who were sent straight to surgery. The study also found that in the year following diagnosis, people who got PT first had costs 18% lower than those who got injections, and 54% lower than those in the surgery group.
Another example happened in 2006 when Virginia Mason Health Center in Seattle teamed up with Aetna and Starbucks. They sent workers with back pain to see both a physical therapist and physician for their first treatment. Use of MRI dropped by 1/3, people got better faster, missed less work and were more satisfied with their care. The cost savings was so great that Virgina Mason was losing money on treating back pain, so Aetna ended up paying them more for PT treatments because they were saving so much money.
Physical Therapy First Means Fewer Visits…
A paper published in Physical Therapy looked at outcomes when patients went to a PT first vs. seeing a physician first for back pain. It found that patients who went to their physician first needed 33 PT visits on average, while those who went to their PT first only needed 20. Seeing a PT first saves money, but it also saves time. Isn’t it a good bargain? Check now for best physical therapy near me.
It Also Means Better Outcomes
A study of 150,000 insurance claims published in Health Services Research, found that those who saw a physical therapist at the first point of care had an 89 percent lower probability of receiving an opioid prescription, a 28 percent lower probability of having advanced imaging services, and a 15 percent lower probability of an emergency department visit.
High quality research consistently shows that taking advantage of direct access and getting to your physical therapist quickly leads to better outcomes in fewer visits with lower costs. We think that’s a deal worth taking advantage of.