Arthritis is a condition that affects the joints connecting your bones. Arthritis can manifest in both chronic and acute forms and is linked with inflammation of the joints. If you have arthritis, you can experience stiffness, pain, and discomfort during mobility.
Arthritis has two major types:
- Osteoarthritis takes place when the cartilages between your joints are damaged.
- Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease and it occurs when your body’s immune system affects its joints.
How can Physiotherapy Help?
Here are some ways in which physiotherapy can help you with arthritis.
Understanding how arthritis affects you
A physiotherapist helps you learn what happens to your muscles and joints when affected by arthritis. Learning about your arthritis can help you to control its effects.
Managing your pain
Arthritis causes pain in one specific part of your body or more widespread muscle and joint pain. Medications may help, but a physiotherapist will tell you about other pain relief methods that function with your drugs. You can continue with a few of these treatments by yourself between appointments:
- Ice packs are used to soothe hot, swollen joints.
- Heat pack can help to relax tense, tired muscles.
- Splinting of painful or swollen joints can help while in a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis. Your physiotherapist or an occupational therapist (OT) can give temporary splints for you.
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) blocks pain messages to your brain and changes your perception of pain. A TENS machine is a tiny electronic device, and it sends pulses to your nerve endings through pads placed on your skin. This can cause a tingling sensation that you may find soothing.
Overworking can raise your pain. Your physiotherapist will ask you to increase your activity level at a reasonable rate. It will help you in finding the correct balance between rest and activity.
Take regular graded exercise
The graded exercise begins slowly and improves in small steps. It can help in strengthening your joints and muscles and improve your fitness. Improving your fitness and stamina allows you to upgrade your activity level without increasing your pain.
Daily exercise may stimulate the creation of your body’s natural pain-relieving hormones (endorphins).
Your physiotherapist can offer other treatments, like the following:
Massage helps the muscles to relax and makes your joint movement comfortable
Acupuncture can promote your brain to create endorphins. Few physiotherapists are trained to do acupuncture.
Electrotherapy uses methods like low-level laser therapy and ultrasound. It can help promote the healing process and hence decrease pain.
Manipulation helps to better the range of movement in your joint. It is not suitable for everyone, but your physiotherapist can determine whether it can help your condition.
Improving your fitness
People are afraid that exercise will raise their pain or cause damage to their joints. However, your joints require movement, otherwise tissues and muscles surrounding them become weak.
Not using your joints makes them unstable. It leads to a decrease in your mobility and independence. Exercise enhances your general fitness. The thing is to find a type of activity you enjoy so you do it daily. Think about this and talk with your physiotherapist about it.
Mobilizing, stretching, and strengthening
Arthritis causes muscle weakness and joint stiffness, and this may affect your everyday activities. Your physiotherapist will help you strengthen your muscle and the range of movement in your joints. They can also advise on methods and exercises that you can keep your joints functioning.
Typically, the effects of arthritis are long term. All joint pain is not arthritis. So it would be best if you went for a proper diagnosis before planning treatment.
It is just a myth that once you are diagnosed with arthritis, there is not much you can do about it. Exercise helps you get moving, working, and doing regular activities to assist you in remaining independent.
Use targeted exercise to relieve inflammation and pain. You can go to conditioning and aerobic fitness training to enhance overall body health. Also, resistance training can strengthen your weak muscles.