Physical Therapy for Arthritis
After years of relying on damaging pain medication to help you get through the day, you may never need those pills again to live a pain-free life, even if you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis. In the past, arthritis was a life sentence that meant you had to give up many of your favorite activities.
Now, thanks to advances in physical therapy (PT) treatments and the dedication of physical therapists in Brooklyn seeking to help suffering patients, you can find pain relief and a full range of motions without surgery or any more medication.
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a common chronic condition that affects the joints and can get worse over time. The term arthritis covers more than 100 various conditions that are characterized by damage to the cartilage. The cartilage is an interlayer between bones that works like a natural shock absorber.
Depending on the stage and type of arthritis, cartilage damage and synovial inflammation can vary. In the early stages of the disease, the pain occurs due to inflammation. Over time, the pain occurs when bones rub against each other and the worn cartilage can’t absorb these frictions.
Joint pain and stiffness are the main signs of arthritis, a common condition in which one or more joints are affected by inflammation. Arthritis affects more than 50 million adults and is the leading cause of disability in America. Many people adjust their normal activities to accommodate the pain caused by inflamed joints. Others opt for surgery to replace worn-out body parts like hips and knees which might require knee osteoarthritis physical therapy. Untreated, arthritis can lead to depression.
Some of the most common symptoms of arthritis include:
- Pain and tenderness
- Swelling in affected joints
- Decreased range of motion
- Redness in the area affected
- Intermittent pain
- Sharp, stabbing pain
- Difficulty walking
- All-over fatigue
- Grinding sounds when you use the affected limb
While it may not always be the first place you think to go for arthritis treatment, your local physical therapy practice offers effective treatments for reducing the discomfort caused by arthritis and returning you to full function.
Arthritis treatment aims to reduce symptoms of pain and limited mobility in order to improve your quality of life. Top Brooklyn physical therapists believe that your body is meant to move and they’ve dedicated their lives to just that goal.
Types of Arthritis
While there are more than 100 different types of arthritis, some are more common than others. The two most common types of arthritis are:
- Osteoarthritis. This is typically an acquired disorder. The disease breaks down the cartilage that cushions your joints. It’s common among the elderly after years of everyday use. Athletes who place an enormous amount of pressure on joints also may develop osteoarthritis.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the linings of your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis often is genetic, but it can strike both children and adults.
The sooner you can start physical therapy after symptoms of arthritis begin, the more likely you’ll be able to maintain strength, prevent permanent joint stiffness and preserve or increase strength in the surrounding muscles.
Joints Commonly Affected by Arthritis
Physical therapy exercises for knee arthritis, hip arthritis or shoulder arthritis treatment can strengthen the muscles surrounding the joints and help improve range of motion.
Rheumatoid arthritis usually starts in smaller joints such as fingers and toes, and then spreads to hands and feet. As it progresses, other joints are affected, too, including hips, shoulders, ankles, elbows, knees, and wrists. In most cases, symptoms happen in the same joints on both sides of the body.
How Your Brooklyn Physical Therapist Can Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis
Arthritis is an incurable disease but it can be managed. Depending on your situation, the doctor will prescribe the most effective treatment which may include occupational therapy or physical therapy for arthritis and anti-inflammatory drugs (pain relievers). Surgery such as knee or hip replacement may be suggested in advanced cases of arthritis. Joint replacement can provide the best results for the elderly with severe arthritis.
When your joints become painful and swollen because of any type of arthritis, you may be reluctant to move. Your Brooklyn arthritis specialist can help you to get moving again. Although it may seem counterintuitive to move when you’re in pain, it’s usually the best medicine.
The ways a physical therapist can help you get started on a program to relieve arthritis pain include:
- Helping you to understand your condition
- Providing exercises to help reduce pain and preserve the mobility and strength of your joints so you can resume your normal activities
- Teaching you proper posture and body mechanics
- Recommending walking aids or other assistive devices if needed
Techniques That Treat Arthritis
A customized treatment plan is designed to treat your specific challenges or limitations. Your arthritis doctor may use a variety of techniques to increase your flexibility and strength, improve your range of motion and reduce pain. Some PT techniques that he may use include:
- Spinal and joint manipulation
- Manual therapy
- Shockwave therapy
- Functional exercise training
- Cupping therapy
- Massage therapy
Your arthritis specialist also recommends exercises and activities that you can do at home to maintain a pain-free lifestyle. Light to moderate activities such as walking, biking or swimming can be beneficial to your joints.
The Goals of Physical Therapy for Arthritis
Physical therapy is usually recommended as part of most treatment plans for arthritis. The goals of treatment using physiotherapy include restoring abilities that have been lost and preventing permanent loss of the use of your joints. You work toward being able to participate in activities of your choosing while requiring little or no help from others.
An arthritis specialist works with you to create an individualized exercise plan that targets the specific joints that are causing you pain. As the muscles become stronger and joints become more flexible, you may not need to rely on pain medication as much, and you may be able to become more active. Physical therapy can help to relieve pain and improve function so you can live your best life.