Arthritis is a disease that affects the joints connecting the bones and is associated with inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis occurs when the cartilage between joints is damaged, whereas rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system affects its own joints. The core benefits of physiotherapy in managing arthritis pain involve improving mobility and re-establishing the functioning of affected joints.
What are the benefits of physiotherapy for arthritis joint pain?
Physiotherapy can help manage arthritis symptoms by helping to regain movement in your joints, relieve pain, reduce inflammation, and strengthen muscles to support the joints. A physiotherapist can create an individualized treatment plan to improve strength, flexibility, and coordination for maximum physical function, using exercise and manual therapy to treat arthritis joint pain. Strengthening and weight-bearing exercises are implemented to improve joint lubrication, which helps reduce the pain associated with arthritis. Your physiotherapist can develop a treatment plan that targets all areas of the body affecting the pain. For instance, if you suffer from knee pain, the exercise regimen may include proper knee mechanics and the lower back, ankle, and hip. Physiotherapists may also use various manual techniques to treat arthritis symptoms, including manipulation and stretching, technologies such as electrotherapy, ultrasound, laser, or interferential treatment.
4 Ways to manage your arthritis pain
While medications may help, a physiotherapist can educate you on other methods of pain relief that work alongside your medications. You will be able to continue with some of these treatments yourself between appointments:
- Ice packs can help soothe hot and swollen joints.
- Heat packs may help to relax tense or tired muscles.
- Splinting of swollen and painful joints may be helpful during a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) can block pain messages in the brain, altering your perception of pain. A TENS machine sends pulses to your nerve endings via pads placed on your skin, causing a tingling sensation you may find soothing.
With a combination of simple treatments and lifestyle changes, these four methods can help you reduce and manage your hip and knee arthritis pain:
Your weight can significantly impact arthritis symptoms as excess weight puts more pressure on your joints, especially weight-bearing joints like the hips and knees. Therefore, losing weight is strongly recommended if you have osteoarthritis and obesity or are overweight. Your physiotherapist can help you set a target weight and design a program to help you reach that target with arthritis-friendly physical activity and dietary changes. In addition, reducing the stress on your joints by losing weight can help improve mobility, decrease pain, and prevent future damage to joints.
Exercise is one of the best ways to manage hip and knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. Regular exercise can help you manage your weight, keep your joints flexible, and strengthen muscles around your joints, which offers more support. Try to incorporate low-impact exercises, such as walking, cycling, water activities, and swimming. In addition, physical therapy will make your joints stronger and increase their range of motion with exercises to strengthen the muscles that support your knees or hips to help reduce the stress on your joints during everyday activities.
Walking aids & assistive devices
Your physical therapist can help you find supportive devices, such as splints, braces, or shoe inserts, which can support inflamed joints. These devices can take pressure off weakened joints and bones, reducing pain overall. Using a walking aid such as a cane or walking frame can help take the pressure off your hips and knees, provide additional support to the joints, and reduce your risk of falling by helping you maintain stability and balance.
Acupuncture is a therapy that involves placing tiny needles along meridians in the body to release trapped energy. This technique can relieve pain by stimulating the skin at key points, which prompts the body to increase the production of endorphins. It may also increase blood flow to the area, which helps get rid of by-products that cause pain and block pain messages from being delivered to the brain.
If you are experiencing any arthritic symptoms and want to explore the benefits of physiotherapy for arthritis pain management, schedule an appointment at Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic today.
For more info, contact Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic at 905-849-4576.
We are located less than 10 min from Sheridan College Oakville and 4 min East from Oakville & Milton Humane Society.
Dana Clark, BScPT FCAMPT IDN(C) is a registered physiotherapist working in Orthopaedics for over 25 years. He has travelled with Sports Teams and worked on complex cases as well as professional, and Olympic Athletes. He previously instructed clinicians in the Orthopaedic Division of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
He continues to help teach clinical skills at the University of Toronto while sitting on the medical advisory board for complete concussion management and an advisory board member for private practice of the Ontario Physiotherapy Association.