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Arthritis Rehabilitation and Pain Relief

Has getting in and out of your favorite chair become one of your least favorite activities? Do your joints feel decades older than the rest of you? Do you wish you could enjoy all your favorite activities without paying the price in pain and stiffness? If so, you’re probably one of the millions of Americans struggling with arthritis. The Cleveland Clinic states that as many as 1 in 5 people in the U.S. experience some form of this joint disorder.

Drugs may promise temporary pain relief, but their risks and side effects can outweigh the limited benefits they provide for your aching joints. But there’s a way to obtain a healthier, more effective form of relief — by contacting our physical therapist today and scheduling a course of physical therapy.

For arthritis sufferers, CPTE has the experience and expertise necessary to address the various forms of the disease and the variety of symptoms that can occur. Arthritis rehabilitation provides relief for people suffering from pain and restricted motion due to the loss of cartilage in their joints. We are dedicated to providing patients with the best treatment and functional outcome.

 

What is Arthritis?

Arthritis is a more complicated challenge than many people realize, if only because the term really describes any condition that causes chronic joint pain and inflammation. Over 100 different disorders fall into this broad category. Arthritis is the wearing, degeneration or loss of articular cartilage in a joint. At each joint the ends of the bones have a smooth, shiny surface called joint articular cartilage that allows them to slide freely over each other. Arthritis can be caused by age related wear and tear, predisposition due to genetics and family history, repetitive strain injuries, ligament or connective tissue damage, or excessive use of steroids.The most common types of joint arthritis are:

  • Osteoarthritis – A degenerative joint condition and the most common form of arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – the second-most common form of arthritis, in which auto-immune reactions target (in some cases, disfigure) the joints
  • Psoriatic arthritis – Another type of arthritis triggered by the immune system, seen in individuals who also have psoriasis.
  • Gout – A painful form of arthritis that likes to attack the joints of the toes.
  • Lyme Arthritis –  if lyme disease goes untreated, or reaches stage III, it can cause long-term joint inflammation called lyme arthritis. 

Symptoms

  • Pain and aching in the affected joint
  • Loss of range of motion
  • Swelling around the joint
  • Increased size or visible deformity of the joint
  • Weakness that makes daily activities difficult
  • A sensation of cracking or crunching in the affected joint

 

How Physical Therapy Helps Arthritis

There is no cure for arthritis, but physical therapy treatment from the skilled experts at CPTE can help reduce and control the symptoms so that sufferers can live active, pain free, lives. Other standard medical recommendations for arthritis include drugs and, in the most extreme cases, surgery. Most of the medications available for arthritis can do nothing more than ease pain and swelling for a few hours — with no meaningful aid to joint health and flexibility. At the other end of the scale, invasive surgery to fuse arthritic joints creates its own set of painful issues while permanently robbing you of joint motion. Physical therapy can help you achieve more pain-free flexibility and mobility, on a lasting basis, without many of the downsides of these other treatments.

Our physical therapist perform a thorough evaluation before recommending a physical therapy program. Once we understand the underlying cause of your arthritis, and exactly how that arthritis is affecting your quality of life, we can devise a personalized treatment regimen which may include:

  • Manual Therapeutic Technique: hands-on care including soft tissue massage, deep tissue therapy, stretching and joint mobilization to relieve arthritis pain, stiffness, and inflammation resulting in improved alignment, mobility and range of motion. 
  • Therapeutic Exerciseincluding stretching and strengthening exercises to regain range of motion and strengthen the affected muscles to support, stabilize and decrease the stresses place on joints and cartilage. The Arthritis Foundation recommends physical therapy exercises for osteoarthritis; this approach can also prove invaluable for rheumatoid arthritis. Depending on the severity of your condition, we may prescribe underwater exercises, passive range of motion exercises, strengthening exercises to stabilize the joints, and/or light aerobic exercise to get the blood flowing and boost your cardiovascular wellness.
  • Neuromuscular Reeducation to restore stability, retrain the affected extremity and improve movement techniques and mechanics (for example, walking, kneeling, squatting and stair climbing) of the involved extremity to reduce stress on the joint surfaces in daily activities. 
  • Gait and balance training may be indicated in those individuals who have problems with walking and to reduce fall risk.
  • Modalities including the use of ultrasound, electrical stimulation, ice, cold, laser and others to decrease pain and inflammation of the involved joint.
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes – Our physical therapist can recommend specific strategies to get your weight down,improve your nutritional balance, and adopt a more joint-healthy lifestyle.

Physical therapy for arthritis must remain conservative at the onset to avoid aggravating the condition. Emphasis will be placed on rest, reducing the inflammation, protecting the joint and increasing the blood circulation for healing. Once the initial inflammation has reduced, a program of stretching and strengthening will be initiated to restore flexibility and improve strength to reduce stress on the affected joint.

Put yourself on the natural, healthy path to arthritis relief. contact the Center for Physical Therapy and Exercise today to schedule an initial appointment!

FAQs

What are the symptoms for arthritis pain?

Do your joints feel stiff, achy, or painful, especially when you wake up in the morning? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of arthritis. This is one of the most common symptoms of arthritis, but it is common to also expereince accompanying symptoms. Other sensations you may experience with arthritis include pain in the affected region, which may spread to surrounding body parts; persistent stiffness; inflammation; muscle spasms, joint creaking, clicking, or popping sounds; increased pain with certain activities, such as work or exercise; decreased range of motion in the affected area, abnormalities in gait, such as limping; swelling; weakness; and a warm sensation in the affected joint.

What are the best physical therapy treatments for arthritis pain?

Regardless of the cause of arthritis, physical therapy plays a major role in the treatment of its symptoms. Your physical therapist will conduct a physical evaluation to analyze your joint movement, muscle strength, and overall function, in order to pinpoint the exact areas that are causing you pain. You will then be prescribed a personalized treatment plan, focused around your specific needs. Treatment plans will include targeted stretches and exercises aimed at relieving your pain and improving your function, in addition to any specialized methods your physical therapist deems fit. This may include manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound. Your physical therapist may also include additional services as needed, such as weight management techniques to help ease some stress on your joints, and/or posture improvement to relieve stiffness and prevent injury.

Can arthritis affect different body parts?

There are over 100 different types of arthritis, containing monoarthritis (where only one joint is affected) and oligoarthritis (where multiple joints are affected). According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 54.4 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with some form of arthritis per year. As we age, the cartilage in our joints wears down, causing painful bone-on-bone rubbing, inflammation, stiffness, and pain. While it is possible for arthritis to develop in any of the joints, the fingers, elbows, shoulders, lower back, hips, and knees are among the most common.

Can arthritis be cured?

While there is no cure for arthritis yet, it is possible to alleviate arthritic symptoms by improving your joint movement, muscle strength, balance, and coordination through physical therapy treatments. In some cases, physical therapy can even make it possible to eliminate symptoms entirely. For best results, it is in your best interest to consult with a physical therapist as soon as you begin noticing arthritic symptoms. The sooner they get treated, the easier they are to manage. Whatever type of arthritis you may be suffering from, physical therapy undoubtedly plays an important role in pain relief. In addition, it can also help you avoid the need for harmful pain-management drugs or invasive surgical correction.