Can Physiotherapy Relieve Arthritis Pain?
Struggling with arthritis pain? Are your joints painful and swollen? Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent arthritis. This musculoskeletal condition affects people of all ages. It is estimated that over seven million people in Australia alone will develop this condition by 2030 and the economic burden will exceed $55Bn annually. Even though arthritis can not be prevented, there are ways to slow its progress and restore your range of motion.
Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and exercise can make all the difference. Lifestyle changes can do more for your health than any drugs out there.
Arthritis at a Glance
Arthritis is an umbrella term for a number of health conditions that cause pain and stiffness in the joints. This musculoskeletal disorder has over 200 forms, such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and gout. Its onset can be sudden or gradual. Common symptoms include:
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Lower back pain
- Limited range of motion
- Loss of appetite
- Redness of the skin around the joints
- Difficulty moving the joints
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Poor sleep
- Unexplained weight loss
- Difficulty walking or using your hands
- Loss of flexibility and balance
People with arthritis may have a hard time staying physically active, which increases their risk of heart disease, obesity, insulin resistance, and hypercholesterolemia. As a result, they can isolate themselves from society and become depressive. About 16.3 percent of hospital outpatient expenditure is associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Another 30 percent is due to osteoarthritis.
The risk of developing this disorder increases with age. Women are more likely to have arthritis than men. Currently, there is no cure for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Treatment options include physiotherapy, medications, orthopedic bracing, weight management, and regular exercise. In severe cases, surgery may be required.
How Effective Is Physiotherapy for Arthritis?
Physical therapy is considered one of the most effective ways to manage arthritis symptoms. This form of treatment also aids in social and emotional adjustment following injuries associated with arthritis. A good physiotherapist can boost your confidence and help you recover faster from injury. They can also recommend exercises that will improve your balance and range of motion, keep your bones stronger, and allow for independent living.
Those who work in this field can help you understand what happens to your joints and how to control pain. They also assist caregivers in helping their loved ones and addressing their needs more efficiently. If you’re in good health, a physiotherapist can help you prevent future injuries and cope with the changes triggered by arthritis.
This therapy improves the body’s ability to engage in movement, such as walking around, climbing the stairs, and playing sports. In the long-run, it boosts your functional fitness and reduces injury risk. Depending on your needs, a physiotherapist can recommend swimming, water aerobics, stretching, or at-home exercises that help restore joint mobility. At Upwell in Camberwell, we also have anti-gravity treadmill training which is great for managing arthritis.
“The key is to be consistent and stick to your routine.”
Start with small steps to build up your strength and endurance. As you progress, use resistance for a more challenging workout. Your therapist will show you how to maintain good form and exercise safely.
What Are the Benefits?
Physiotherapists have the skills and knowledge needed to help you overcome arthritis pain. They can teach you a variety of techniques to improve your posture, strengthen your muscles, and fix biomechanical problems that can worsen pain. A specialist may recommend:
- Heat/ ice therapy to relieve muscle spasms
- Hydrotherapy to increase range of motion, ease painful spasms, and improve well-being
- Anti-gravity treadmill training
- Therapeutic exercises for increased joint strength and mobility
- Use of assistive devices and adaptive equipment
- Joint protection strategies
- Massage therapy
- Prevention methods
Muscle weakness in arthritis patients typically occurs because of immobilisation or lack of physical activity. Maintaining muscle strength is crucial not only for health and well-being but also for injury prevention and joint stabilisation. Therapeutic exercise can increase physical capacity and improve your range of motion.
Before prescribing an exercise plan, the physiotherapist will assess a number of factors, such as your age and fitness level, stage of the disease, and your ability to follow the program. The best exercises for arthritis pain increase muscle tone without causing pain or discomfort. Isometric movements, strength training, aerobic conditioning exercises, and stretching can help. Your therapist may also recommend daily activities like walking, swimming, or cycling. They boost cardiovascular and muscle endurance, relieve stress, and keep your joints strong.
Physiotherapy appears to be particularly effective for treating rheumatoid arthritis. This form of treatment can help you get stronger, move better, and prevent falls. It also helps improve muscle function, agility and proprioception. Certain exercises recommended in physiotherapy may relieve joint pain and swelling, strengthen your lower limbs and knees, and fix muscular imbalances.
If you’ve had hip or knee replacement surgery, physiotherapy can speed up healing and recovery. The physiotherapist will focus on restoring full knee motion, balance, and muscle endurance. They may also recommend the use of knee braces and adaptive equipment to support your joints and make daily activities easier.
Recent research has found that Physiotherapy combined with medication was just as effective as surgery in treating knee osteoarthritis. A skilled physiotherapist can relieve knee pain by identifying its root cause, such as tight muscles, and prescribing an exercise plan to address that problem.
Physiotherapists look at the whole picture, not just at the affected areas. They can also teach you breathing techniques and stress relief exercises that make it easier to cope with arthritis pain.