Arthritis is a debilitating disease for millions of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control has shown that 1 in 2 people will have knee arthritis by the time they are 85, and 1 in 4 will develop painful hip arthritis. The good news is that you don’t have to live with arthritis pain or take constant medication. The right physical therapy can make all the difference.
Arthritis affects the cartilage of joints and most pain is due to wear and tear. However, the uneven wear and tear causes cartilage debris to shave off into the joint causing painful inflammation. This condition is made worse by a tightening of the joint tissue, loss of muscle strength supporting the joint and altered movement because of range of motion problems.
Physical therapy is one of the most important treatments for arthritis and makes a significant impact in your joint health. While arthritis can slow you down, it doesn’t have to. If you are suffering with arthritis, PT can change your life.
In physical therapy we focus on the following:
- Restoring natural pain free range of motion in your joints and around your joints
- Enhancing joint balance and function
- Teaching you what to do to protect your joints from further damage
- Although we cannot repair your cartilage, our treatments can reduce or completely alleviate your pain, and swelling while improving your ability to walk, run, bend or reach.
Do your joints feel stiff, achy, or painful, especially when you wake up in the morning? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of arthritis. This is one of the most common symptoms of arthritis, but it is common to also expereince accompanying symptoms. Other sensations you may experience with arthritis include pain in the affected region, which may spread to surrounding body parts; persistent stiffness; inflammation; muscle spasms, joint creaking, clicking, or popping sounds; increased pain with certain activities, such as work or exercise; decreased range of motion in the affected area, abnormalities in gait, such as limping; swelling; weakness; and a warm sensation in the affected joint.
Regardless of the cause of arthritis, physical therapy plays a major role in the treatment of its symptoms. Your physical therapist will conduct a physical evaluation to analyze your joint movement, muscle strength, and overall function, in order to pinpoint the exact areas that are causing you pain. You will then be prescribed a personalized treatment plan, focused around your specific needs. Treatment plans will include targeted stretches and exercises aimed at relieving your pain and improving your function, in addition to any specialized methods your physical therapist deems fit. This may include manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound. Your physical therapist may also include additional services as needed, such as weight management techniques to help ease some stress on your joints, and/or posture improvement to relieve stiffness and prevent injury.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, containing monoarthritis (where only one joint is affected) and oligoarthritis (where multiple joints are affected). According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 54.4 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with some form of arthritis per year. As we age, the cartilage in our joints wears down, causing painful bone-on-bone rubbing, inflammation, stiffness, and pain. While it is possible for arthritis to develop in any of the joints, the fingers, elbows, shoulders, lower back, hips, and knees are among the most common.
While there is no cure for arthritis yet, it is possible to alleviate arthritic symptoms by improving your joint movement, muscle strength, balance, and coordination through physical therapy treatments. In some cases, physical therapy can even make it possible to eliminate symptoms entirely. For best results, it is in your best interest to consult with a physical therapist as soon as you begin noticing arthritic symptoms. The sooner they get treated, the easier they are to manage. Whatever type of arthritis you may be suffering from, physical therapy undoubtedly plays an important role in pain relief. In addition, it can also help you avoid the need for harmful pain-management drugs or invasive surgical correction.