You may already know physical therapy can help those recovering from a major accident (like a car accident) or a sports-related injury. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the applications for physical therapy. This unique, hands-on approach to care can benefit patients experiencing a range of injuries and ailments, including those with arthritis. Physical therapy can help patients manage their arthritis symptoms, reduce pain, and improve their range of motion. As a safe and holistic approach to care, physical therapy is ideal for arthritis patients.
But how exactly does physical therapy help with arthritis? In this blog, we’re taking a closer look into the link between physical therapy and arthritis and revealing how this type of manual therapy can help those with arthritis manage their symptoms so they can return to their active and fulfilling lifestyles.
How Does Physical Therapy Work?
Physical therapy is a unique approach to treatment that can improve your balance, provide pain relief, restore mobility, and help you achieve a faster and longer-lasting recovery. While physical therapy is often recommended for individuals recovering from major accidents or injuries, this type of care can also prove effective for a range of patients. Receiving regular physical therapy can also help you stay in peak physical condition and reduce your risk of future injuries.
While physical therapy will look different for each patient, this type of treatment is based on a series of specific exercises and stretches that help patients regain strength, improve their mobility, and recover from injuries or illnesses. Reconditioning physical therapy can help individuals get back to the activities they love. Some physical therapy programs may also include massage therapy, heat or cold therapy, warm water therapy, or even ultrasound treatment that can be effective at addressing muscle pain and muscle spasms.
Physical therapy is also effective for patients first learning how to use an artificial limb or adapting to an assistive device, such as a walker or cane. As a popular type of holistic care, physical therapy works to treat the entire body. By healing one part of the body, whether it’s a serious injury or a certain muscle, the entire body benefits. This is just one of the many reasons why physical therapy is so effective.
How Can Physical Therapy Help Treat Arthritis?
Depending on the type and severity of your arthritis, there may be several treatment options available. Your doctor may prescribe certain medications, joint immobilization (from a splint or brace), massage therapy, or even acupuncture. In addition to these options, more and more doctors are recommending physical therapy to help manage arthritis symptoms.
Why exactly is physical therapy so effective for arthritis patients?
- Restore/improve your range of motion: osteoarthritis is notorious for making joints feel stiff and uncomfortable. The stretches in physical therapy can help you regain this range of motion so you can move (and feel) better.
- Improve balance: with poor joint function and decreased mobility, many patients also experience issues with their balance. Many physical therapy programs incorporate balance exercises to help strengthen core muscles so that you’ll move more comfortably and reduce your risk of falling.
- Strengthen muscles: over time, arthritis can wear away at the protective tissue surrounding your joints. But when you strengthen your muscles in these areas, you decrease friction and the joint receives more support.
- Improve posture: poor posture doesn’t just look bad. It can also make your arthritis symptoms worse. When your posture improves, you can reduce stress from your joints. In addition to exercises and stretches, your physical therapist can make lifestyle recommendations to help you maintain good posture throughout your day.
What are the Most Common Types of Arthritis?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. While this disease tends to be more common in older adults (and women), arthritis can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, or environment. Common arthritis symptoms include pain, swelling around the joints, stiffness, and a diminished range of motion. Depending on the type and severity of your arthritis, the symptoms may come and go. But in many cases, over time, the symptoms tend to progress and get worse.
The term “arthritis” doesn’t apply to simply one disease, but rather, hundreds of types of joint pain and joint disease. The four most common types of arthritis include:
- Osteoarthritis: this is by far the most common form of arthritis. While osteoarthritis can strike anywhere, it occurs most commonly in the hands, hips, knees, or along the spine. Osteoarthritis is a disease of the joint that, over time, causes the joint to deteriorate and become weaker.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: this is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining in your joints. Rheumatoid arthritis can cause painful swelling that, over time, may cause joint deformity and erosion of the bone. As a chronic inflammatory disorder, rheumatoid arthritis can also damage other parts of the body, including the skin, eyes, lungs, and even blood vessels.
- Gout: also known as metabolic arthritis, this condition is caused by a build up of uric acid crystals in the joints. While the body is able to naturally flush out excess uric acid, sometimes it can accumulate, causing pain and discomfort.
- Infectious arthritis: this type of arthritis is originally triggered by an infection that can be viral, bacterial, or fungal in nature. Infectious arthritis can cause swelling, pain, and a fever. Luckily, treating this type of arthritis with antibiotics can clear up the symptoms pretty quickly.
Conclusion – Does Physical Therapy Help With Arthritis?
Arthritis affects millions of people and can make the simplest daily tasks feel like a challenge. Living with arthritis can lead to joint pain, stiffness, inflammation around the joints, and severely limited range of motion. Tasks as simple as picking something up or keeping up with your exercise routine can be limited when living with arthritis.
Luckily, however, there are treatment options available to help individuals better manage their arthritis symptoms. As this blog revealed, physical therapy is one of these top options. Physical therapy is a safe, holistic, and effective treatment for arthritis. With time, engaging in a physical therapy program can improve your range of motion, strengthen your muscles, and even improve your balance and posture (which all play a role in the severity of arthritis symptoms). Don’t feel like you simply need to “live with” your arthritis. Reach out today to learn more about how our physical therapists can help.
Total PT is your choice for Denver physical therapy. With a personalized approach to care and one-on-one access with some of Colorado’s top physical therapists, you’ll benefit from our experience and resources. If you’re experiencing a sports-related injury, recovering from a car accident, require post-surgical treatment, or simply need general physical therapy, our team can certainly help. Our physical therapy services can provide quick pain relief, restore mobility, and help prevent future injuries. With our holistic and safe approach to treatment, our physical therapists offer personalized care for your total health.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment for your initial consultation. Working together, our team can help get you back to the life you love.