Physical therapy is often associated with athletes who have suffered a sports injury and/or received surgery. However, physical therapy can be used to treat many other conditions, as well—no athleticism required. For instance, physical therapy can be a powerful tool for treating arthritis.
How Does Arthritis Affect the Body?
Osteoarthritis, the most common kind of arthritis(opens in a new tab), is typically caused by the deterioration of a joint. This “wear and tear” damage occurs when the cartilage within a joint begins to break down and the bones underneath begin to change. These changes tend to develop slowly but worsen over time. Weight-bearing joints, like knees and hips, tend to be the most commonly affected.
Over 32.5 million Americans are affected by osteoarthritis and deal with symptoms like pain, aching, stiffness, swelling, and decreased range of motion. While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, physical therapy can help reduce these symptoms.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that causes a person’s immune system to attack healthy cells in their body, causing swelling. Rheumatoid arthritis typically attacks joints, causing inflammation that ultimately damages the joint tissue. This damage can cause issues like chronic pain and unsteadiness. However, with the help of a physical therapist, the effects of rheumatoid arthritis can be managed.
How Does Physical Therapy Help Arthritis Pain?
Our physical therapists seek to get their patients back on their feet and performing everyday activities without difficulty or pain. For those with arthritis, this means focusing on three key areas:
- Range of motion: Arthritis can severely affect a person’s range of motion and flexibility, in turn severely limiting their ability to go about their daily lives. Physical therapy can help expand this range of motion, making everyday tasks like getting in and out of chairs or grabbing something off a high shelf much easier.
- Strength: When the muscles around a joint are weak, they face additional stress and pain, even during simple movements. However, strengthening these muscles can help support the joints and any damaged tissues, reducing arthritis symptoms and pain.
- Balance: People with arthritis often struggle with their balance due to decreased joint function, mobility, and strength. This, in turn, can lead to dangerous and potentially deadly situations like falls(opens in a new tab), making balance particularly worth addressing.
By addressing these areas, our physical therapists can help you reduce your arthritis pain and return to daily activities comfortably and confidently.
What Else Can a Physical Therapist Do for Me?
Along with increasing your range of motion, strengthening the muscles in your joint, and helping to improve your balance, the experts at our Performance UNLIMITED physical therapy clinic can also teach you how to manage your arthritis pain in other ways. For instance, your physical therapist can show you how to best modify your posture to relieve your joints of stress as you sit down, stand up, and walk around. Plus, they also may be able to make suggestions as to how you can modify the space around you (whether that be at home, at work, or in the car) to make your daily activities easier.
For people with more severe arthritis, a physical therapist can help you identify when it’s time to use an assistive device, like a walker or cane. These devices can help take pressure off of joints and decrease a person’s risk for injury, and a physical therapist can show you how to properly use these devices to get the best results.
How Can I Get Started With a Physical Therapist?
If you’re ready to take back control of your life and address your arthritis pain, it’s time to contact Performance UNLIMITED. We believe that physical therapy should be more than just a checklist of excercises to take home. Instead, we build strong and compassionate relationships with our patients as part of our commitment to them and their health goals. Get started with us today by reaching out to our friendly and knowledgeable staff to schedule an appointment!
Searching for “physical therapists near me”? Try the experts at Performance UNLIMITED! Schedule an appointment online today to get started at our physical rehabilitation center in Wexford, PA.