Arthritis pain can vary in terms of intensity. For example, one might experience slight joint pain, intense pain, or a combination of both, depending on the day and/or activities being performed. Regardless of pain level, those with arthritis often wonder if physical therapy could help ease their symptoms, and the answer here is YES.
Physical Therapy Demonstrates How to Move Without Triggering a Flare
Often, people with arthritis will avoid making any movements that aren't necessary, fearing that any excess movement will worsen the problem.
However, it's the opposite that is true; lack of movement will worsen the pain. This is why physical therapy may be helpful, as a skilled therapist can demonstrate the proper movements to activate the affected areas without inducing further damage.
Furthermore, physical therapy can be beneficial in demonstrating how to properly move to ease the stress and pain in the joints without triggering a flare.
A physical therapist can also provide examples of lifestyle changes that can be adopted to decrease pain, reduce inflammation, and increase mobility range. These changes could include using motion aids (e.g., zipper pullers, bottle and jar openers, and "grabbers" to make everyday functioning easier).
A qualified physical therapist can offer many helpful suggestions, so it will be easier for patients to perform daily tasks with minimal joint pain.
A Personalized Movement Plan Based on Diagnosis and Existing Ability
Through physical therapy, those living with arthritis will learn more about how their particular arthritis condition affects them. For example, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and gout will all be treated in slightly different ways.
The more an arthritis sufferer knows about their particular condition, the better prepared they can be to adopt personalized lifestyle changes that would be beneficial to them.
A physical therapist can also demonstrate ways to alleviate pain through natural means, prescription medications, or a combination of both. Modified activities, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises, might also be included in the individualized treatment plan for lessening daily pain.
Is Physical Therapy the Right Choice?
The question remains, how can someone living with arthritis tell if physical therapy is appropriate for their case?
Usually, primary care or pain management doctor is the most qualified person to consult when considering physical therapy as a treatment option. The doctor can also collaborate with a physical therapist to craft a special treatment plan for their patient's individual needs.
Moreover, a therapist will often ask for their patient's insight into how they are responding to conventional treatments (prescriptions, surgery) while assisting in the creation of attainable goals through physical therapy. They will craft a program of movements and exercises to help control and reduce joint pain and discomfort, and these exercises will usually involve balance, flexibility, strengthening, and coordination.
Furthermore, the therapist will also keep track of their patient's struggles when they have their first session, and note improvements and declines as the sessions go on. This helps them evaluate the overall ability, strength, and flexibility their patients have to start with and allows them to set individualized goals and modify exercise plans as necessary.
Physical Therapy Can Offer Empowerment for Arthritis Patients
Physical therapy will usually be a once or twice a week process, to begin with, but, as patients progress, they will be given exercises they can do at home. Eventually, they may able to phase out of visiting the office altogether.
Physical therapy exercises give arthritis patients a feeling of empowerment because they have a chance to strengthen their bodies and move in ways that will improve pain, not make it worse.