Arthritis is a chronic condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints. The hips, knees, hands, and spine are the most commonly affected joints. Arthritis is not a single disease but an umbrella term that includes a variety of different types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Osteoarthritis is the most common and is associated with wear and tear changes of the joints with gradual loss of joint cartilage with loss of motion, pain, and stiffness.
Physical therapy has been extensively researched as a treatment for arthritis and demonstrates excellent outcomes including pain reduction, improved mobility, and delaying or preventing surgery. Physical therapists typically provide hands on, manual therapy techniques and specific exercises as the base for arthritis treatment. These interventions help to regain lost joint motion, decrease feelings of stiffness, and strengthen muscles surrounding the affected joint. Exercise and manual therapy have been shown to be as effective as medication for pain relief in many types of arthritis, without the side effects of the medication and better long term outcomes.
Patient education is combined with an exercise program to help people understand their condition and how to manage it. As experts in human movement, physical therapists also teach individuals ways to modify how to perform certain tasks to reduce the strain on joints affected by arthritis. A physical therapist will also provide ways to modify the environment at work or home to reduce pain and improve function. Other suggestions may include the use of braces or other devices to help maintain mobility and reduce pain.
With so many techniques that are proven effective in helping people with arthritis, physical therapy is a recommended first line of treatment for many types of arthritis. Physical therapists work with each patient to find the right type of exercise and treatment plan to best manage the patient’s condition.
Northern Rehab‘s physical therapists are trained to treat chronic conditions including arthritis and will work one-on-one with each patient to reach their goals and to meet their expectations. You don’t have to live with pain; if you are interested in beginning physical therapy or would like more information, please contact us at 815.756.8524.