T4 Physio

Is Physiotherapy an Effective Treatment for Arthritis?

Physiotherapy can help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and prevent it from getting worse.
In this blog, we will learn how physiotherapy can effectively provide a long-term solution for painful arthritis, but let us dig into the basics first.

What is arthritis?

  • Arthritis is the term used to describe inflammation of the joints.
  • There are over 200 known types of arthritis.
  • The 2 most common types are Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis
  • Osteoarthritis is wear and tear within the joint(s), which gradually worsens over time
  • Rheumatoid arthritis is the body’s immune system attacks the joints. The joints then become red and swollen if left untreated.

Arthritis: Symptoms, Types, and Risk Factors

Arthritis often affects the knees since they carry most of our weight. Among the most common symptoms associated with arthritis include:

  • Extreme joint pain
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Tenderness & swelling of joints
  • Limited joint mobility

Symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe. Although they come and go, symptoms can worsen over time. The pain eventually becomes chronic, resulting in an inability to perform daily activities (climbing stairs, walking, and running).

As arthritis progresses, it causes permanent damage to the joints. While damaged joints are only visible on X-ray, some changes are apparent physically, such as knobby joints. Some types of arthritis do not only damage the joints, but it also affects some of your vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidney, eyes, and skin.

How Arthritis Can Affect Your Daily Life

Living with arthritis can be challenging, making it difficult to carry out everyday tasks. Chronic arthritis can be intrusive and hurts your quality of life as it prevents you from engaging in your social and work life.

Joint pain and swelling can affect your ability to carry daily activities, including:

  • Walking – When medication does not help reduce the symptoms of arthritis, you may find simple daily activities, such as walking, uncomfortably painful. If you have mobility issues, you may need to use assistive devices, including canes and walkers.
  • Climbing stairs – Climbing stairs can be problematic if you are suffering from painful knee, ankle, hip, foot, or back. Your own home can become an issue, especially if you have a staircase to climb. Foot support, knee support, ankle support, and back support helps increase stability, making it safer to climb stairs.
  • Daily tasks – Taking care of your home can be frustrating for an individual with arthritis. Sweeping, mopping and other housework can worsen arthritis symptoms.
  • Eating – Chronic joint pain and swelling make eating difficult. The whole process of picking up your spoon and fork or cutting with a knife can be extremely painful. As a result, you could end up getting less nutrition as arthritis progresses.
  • Hygiene and grooming – People with arthritis spend less time on grooming and hygiene. Simple tasks, such as brushing teeth, washing and combing the hair, can cause considerable pain. Painful and stiff neck, wrist, hand, and elbow can reduce one’s range of motion needed for proper grooming.


Treating Arthritis With Physiotherapy

Untreated arthritis can be debilitating. In some cases, it can still progress even with medication. If you are struggling with mild arthritis, it is vital to know that the pain can worsen over time and affect your daily life. Reduced mobility can be considered a form of physical disability. This is enough reason to take the necessary action before the symptoms get worse.

Physiotherapy is a safe and natural treatment that helps lower your risk of disability. Physiotherapists will assess your movement and help you understand the condition of your joints and muscles. Understanding arthritis helps you manage its symptoms. The physiotherapist will provide you with a customized treatment plan for long-term pain relief, along with your prescribed medications.

A treatment program for arthritis involves strengthening exercises for muscles surrounding the joints. This stimulates the joints to heal and prevent the pain naturally without pain medications. Long-term use of pain relievers can have harmful effects on your health.

Here are different physiotherapy treatments recommended by the physiotherapist to relieve pain, swelling, and discomfort:

  • Hot and cold packs – Hot packs stimulate blood flow to the affected area, soothing the pain, while cold packs reduce inflammation and swelling. If you have no heat or ice packs available, you can use a flannel cloth and soak it with warm or cold water.
  • Massage – A 60-minute massage therapy helps reduce the production of cortisol (a stress hormone) and stimulates the brain to produce more serotonin to improve your mood.
  • Dry needlingDry needling is an effective treatment in reducing pain from osteoarthritis because it increases blood circulation around the joint, thereby providing natural relief.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – It blocks your nerves from sending pain messages to the brain. It uses a small electronic device that sends pulses to the nerve endings by creating a tingling sensation to soothe the pain.

With professional physiotherapy, you can find long-term pain relief from acute and chronic arthritis. Physiotherapy treatment helps improve your quality of life by restoring mobility, relieving pain, and getting back your health.

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