Can Physical Therapy Help Arthritis?

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close up image of a woman wringing her hands due to arthritis pain

 

Can Physical Therapy Help Arthritis?

Before asking the questions on what specific conditions physical therapy can alleviate, you must have a general understanding of what physical therapy is. It is specialized care where the sole purpose is to ease pain and improve human function, movement, and quality of living. Physical therapists typically assist with the post-injury or post-surgery rehabilitation, but they also can specialize in preventative physical therapy treatments to prevent substantial damage should injury occur.

What Is Arthritis? How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Arthritis is a common and informal way of referring to joint pain and often includes symptoms such as swelling, pain, stiffness, and limited range of mobility/motion. While there are more topical episodes of arthritis (such as inflammatory arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Infectious arthritis, and Metabolic arthritis), the general definition pertaining to joint pain is what this piece is focusing on. 

At our physical therapy clinic locations in California, our trained specialists can help pinpoint how PT treatments can help with arthritis and general discomfort. 

Physical therapists can help teach proper posture and improve reflexes or body mechanics to better accomplish day-to-day tasks in a way that will alleviate pain and improve general function. Additionally, they can demonstrate the proper use of assistive products such as canes and walkers. Our physical therapists will recommend a variety of specialized treatment options and suggest environmental changes to better your home or workspace, such as chair cushions or cushioned kitchen/bath mats, or ergonomic chairs. If this seems like a well-needed addition to your lifestyle, check out this list of physical therapy services to see common treatments provided by our California clinics. 

When visiting our physical therapy clinics across California, you will find a wealth of industry and specialized knowledge pertaining to your specific type of arthritis, which allows for unique treatment and mobility training plans that vary from patient to patient. Our specialists can advise on proper foot-care, sharing information on how to find properly fitting shoes, how to identify shock-absorbing outer soles, and where to find customized orthotic insoles that will fit each foot perfectly. 

Finally, our physical therapists can teach at-home methods to relieve your nagging discomfort, as well as ways to improve performance through a variety of mobility and activity modifications. Things like spreading out housework, lowering shelves, sliding furniture rather than pushing or lifting it, reducing the weight of your grocery lists, stretching, and using heat rather than ice to treat your pain are all things you can do at home in your day-to-day life to lessen your arthritis-related pain. These DIY methods can be taught to accompany the physical techniques that strengthen muscles and improve mobility in order to improve your quality of life. 

Why Exercise Is Vital for Arthritis Pain

You may be wary of exercises for fear of further causing pain to your joints. We’re here to tell you that isn’t the case! Appropriate exercise and strength training can generally improve your health and fitness routine without straining your pain points. For instance, targeted physical therapy exercise can: 

  • Strengthen muscles 
  • Keep your bones strong
  • Keep the blood flowing properly
  • Reduce stiffness
  • Increase energy throughout the day (no more midday slumps)
  • Improve quality of sleep
  • Maintain or control weight (gain, loss)
  • Improve quality of life
  • Improve balance 

There Are Different Exercises that Will Target and Aid Specific Types of Arthritis. 

For instance, different range-of-motion exercises such as stretching, rolling shoulders, and hand exercises to name a few, will relieve the stiffness and increase joint mobility. 

Or, general strengthening exercises such as weight training will help build strong muscles to protect the bones and joints. 

Aerobic exercises are known to improve cardiovascular health, assist with maintaining weight, and increasing energy. Things like walking, cycling, swimming, and gym machine use are easy on the joints and easy to add to your daily routine. 

Of course, you ought not to forget your small daily movements, walking around a grocery store, mowing the lawn, raking leaves, walking the dog, waking up, scraping ice off your car, and taking the trash out. All of those things involve movement and movement is generally what’s needed to reduce joint stiffness. 

Image of a woman stretching at her desk

 5 Tips to Protect Your Joints 

  1. Start out with low-impact exercises. When your body gets used to increased activity levels, you can work with your physical therapist to safely increase your workout limits.
  2. Use heat and ice appropriately. Knowing that heat relaxes joints and ice controls swelling or inflammation can result in the proper use of each to treat your arthritis pain.
  3. Be gentle. Don’t overwork yourself. Be sure to stretch before any sort of strengthening or aerobic exercise to ease into exercise. 
  4. Listen to your body. Start slow, take breaks if you feel pain. Slow down as needed. Stay hydrated.
  5. Have a physical therapist help you out. Visiting with our physical therapists can result in a safe exercise plan that can be finessed as your mobility increases and pain decreases. Remember that you’re wanting to improve well-being through pain reduction, which is why you should turn to a physical therapy professional rather than a personal trainer. 

Physical Therapy CAN Help Alleviate Arthritis Pain

By visiting a Pacific Rehabilitation & Sports Therapy clinic for your physical therapy care, you can learn everything there is to know about your unique arthritis pain and help teach you how to manage and reduce that pain. 

No matter where your pain originates, whether it be chronic, injury-related, or otherwise, visiting a physical therapy clinic can help you start on the path to less pain. 

Being in pain stops you from being your best self, so why wait? 

Give us a call or visit one of our physical therapy clinics in California today to get started on the journey toward days without pain. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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