If you have arthritis, you may be used to living with daily joint pain. And while joint damage isn’t caused by arthritis isn’t reversible, treatment can help you manage pain, improve mobility, and maintain a good quality of life. One of the most effective treatment recommendations for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis is physical therapy (PT). Although PT doesn’t cure arthritis, it can have a significant positive effect on your pain levels and daily mobility. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of physical therapy for arthritis.
What Is the Purpose of Physical Therapy for Arthritis?
Physical therapy is one of the top recommended treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis pain. It’s non-invasive, effective, and has no potentially harmful side effects (unlike medications and cortisone injections). With the help of physical therapy, you can achieve the following goals:
- Reduced pain
- Improved functional mobility
- Improved ability to perform daily tasks independently
Physical therapy helps you increase strength, flexibility, range of motion, balance, and endurance to preserve joint mobility, slow the progression of arthritis degeneration, and remain active as long as possible.
If your doctor recommends PT for arthritis pain, a therapist will work with you to build a personalized plan that includes exercises, stretches, and special treatments to help you reach a set of goals. Your goals could be to complete household chores at home without pain or return to your job without pain. During PT sessions, your therapist will lead you through exercises and treatments to improve your functional mobility. Additionally, your therapist will teach you how to exercise, stretch and modify your environment at home to reduce pain and maintain joint functionality.
After an initial course of PT, you likely won’t need to see your therapist weekly or even monthly. As you move through your therapy program, your therapist will teach you all the strategies you need to continue caring for yourself at home. After graduation, you may only need to see your therapist every few months to update your treatment plan.
5 Ways PT Benefits Arthritis Pain
Physical therapy is beneficial for arthritis affecting any joint, including foot and ankle, knee, hip, spine, shoulder, and wrist and hand arthritis. The following are five ways PT can help improve arthritis pain and stiffness.
- PT improves range of motion. Stiffness is one of the primary symptoms of arthritis. When joints get too stiff, you may start experiencing difficulty walking, climbing stairs, sitting down or standing up, getting into or out of the car, and performing other daily tasks. A physical therapist will work with you to optimize joint range of motion so that daily activities are easier to complete.
- PT improves muscle strength. Weak muscles place more stress on surrounding joints. Added stress causes more joint pain and faster joint degeneration. A therapist will work with you to strengthen the muscles that support joint function, thereby reducing pain and stabilizing the joints.
- PT improves posture. Poor posture is another factor that places more stress on surrounding joints. A therapist will show you proper body positioning for sitting, standing, walking, and sleeping that reduces the amount of stress on arthritic joints. They can also show you how to adjust the positioning of your chairs (at home and work), car seat, bed, and workstation in ways that promote better posture.
- Your therapist can recommend helpful modifications. Your therapist is an excellent resource for ways to improve your daily living with arthritis. He or she can show you how to modify your environment and daily tasks to reduce pain and conserve energy. Your therapist will also teach you how and when to use assistive devices like a walker, cane, wheelchair, a brace, and shoe inserts to manage your pain and reduce the risk of injury.
- Your therapist can provide specialized treatment recommendations. Physical therapy isn’t only about exercising and stretching. Your therapist can also perform specialized treatments — like ice/heat therapy, therapeutic massage, TENS — to help you find pain relief. Additionally, your therapist will show you how to stretch, exercise, and apply ice/heat therapy on your own at home.
Receive One-on-One Physical Therapy at BEST
BEST Surgery and Therapies offers one-on-one physical therapy services and other therapy programs under the care of our board-certified therapists. As a patient at BEST, you’ll receive a personalized plan of care designed to minimize your pain while maximizing your movement and independence.
For more information and appointment scheduling, please call us to speak with a dedicated Patient Experience Coordinator.