Arthritis is an umbrella term for conditions that affect tissues around the joints, including connective tissues such as cartilage. According to estimates, approximately one in four American adults have arthritis, and approximately 1 million people are hospitalized every year due to arthritis.
Arthritis – whether osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or some other form of arthritis – results in significant joint pain, swelling, and stiffness. While there are several medical treatments to manage arthritis, physical therapy offers an effective form of relief from arthritis without any side effects. It is a standard treatment for many different types of arthritis.
Let’s explore how physical therapy can help manage arthritis pain and what its benefits are.
How Can Physical Therapy Help Arthritis Pain?
Numerous studies have documented that exercise and physical therapy can significantly reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and ease pain. A recent study has also claimed that supervised active treatment, including physical therapy and exercise therapy, is one of the best treatments for osteoarthritis of knee joint and hip joint.
Another research study also documented that physical therapy was more effective than intraarticular glucocorticoid injections in reducing pain in people with knee osteoarthritis.
Physical therapy can help manage arthritis pain by reducing the swelling and inflammation in the arthritic joint while at the same time increasing flexibility and strength through specific exercises. These exercises may include:
- Strengthening exercises such as weightlifting or resistance training to improve strength and function and decrease pain.
- Range of motion exercises, such as yoga and gentle stretching, to gently reduce stiffness and improve range of motion.
- Aerobic exercises, such as walking and swimming, to improve cardiovascular health and lose excessive weight, which is proven to reduce joint stress.
In addition to the exercise program, a physical therapist can teach you proper posture and body mechanics for daily activities to relieve pain and improve function. They can also suggest environmental modifications, such as ergonomic chairs, to improve your function and relieve pain.
Furthermore, a physical therapist can also show you how to properly use your assisted devices, such as walkers or canes, to reduce stress on your arthritic joint and ease pain. In some cases, they can also recommend different treatment options such as braces and splints to support joints, shoe inserts to relieve stress on the lower extremities, and therapeutic modalities such as heat and cold therapy, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation therapy (TENS) to improve the feeling of pain and discomfort in the arthritic joint.
Physical therapists can also recommend dietary modifications to reduce inflammation in the body and promote your overall health.
What to Expect During Your Physical Therapy Session for Arthritis Pain Management?
When you visit a physical therapist, they will ask about your symptoms, including pain, review your medical history, and ask about your goals. Your goals can be getting in and out of your car without pain, taking a walk, performing your job without pain in your knees, feet, or hip, or raising your arms to reach items in the kitchen cabinet. Physical therapists will also assess the severity of the damage to your joint due to arthritis.
Your PT will then work with you to develop a treatment plan that is right for you to achieve your goals. The treatment plan may consist of therapeutic exercises, modalities, and posture and ergonomics education. They will also recommend some at-home exercises you should regularly perform for long-term benefits.
Physical Therapy in Charlottesville, VA
If you are in search of a highly reputable facility that offers high-quality physical therapy services, visit us here at Atlantic Sports & Reha, a partner of H2 Health. Our highly trained and compassionate physical therapists have advanced degrees and years of experience in treating a comprehensive range of conditions that affect your mobility, function, and overall quality of life. We are committed to improving your arthritis symptoms and quality of life through carefully prescribed therapies.