When you have arthritis, the idea of moving your joints may seem counterintuitive, especially when you’re in pain and worried about exacerbating it when you overexert your joints. Nonetheless, it is exactly what you need to keep your joints healthy and limber.
Physical therapy helps get your joints moving in a safe and effective way. It is the closest thing there is to a miracle drug for your arthritis. This is why it has become one of the most highly recommended approaches to managing the condition.
Let’s delve deeper into the role of physical therapy in managing pain and the other symptoms of arthritis.
Achieving Optimal Physical Function through Individualized Plan
The encompassing goal of physical therapy for arthritis management is to have you progressively acquire strength so you can move more and move better. Your physical therapist can help you achieve this goal by crafting an individualized plan of care based on your unique situation and goals, on available evidence, and on clinical judgment.
Your physical therapist will be with you throughout the entire rehabilitation process, doing important functions, such as the following:
- Apply hot and cold therapy to ease joint pain and stiffness
- Demonstrate how you can properly use assistive devices such as canes and walkers
- Devise an exercise program designed to improve your range of motion, strength, and balance
- Educate you on proper posture or body mechanics that help in reducing your pain or improving your function
- Recommend modifications to your environment, such as having ergonomic chairs and cushioned mats in your kitchen, among others, aimed at reducing risks that would eventually lead to exacerbating your condition
Exercise Program for Improved Range of Motion and Muscle Strength
As mentioned above, your physical therapist will create an exercise program geared toward improving your range of motion, strength, and balance. Here’s a better insight into how an exercise program can help you manage your arthritis pain.
Importance of Range-of-Motion Exercises
Range of motion (ROM) refers to your joint’s full movement potential. Your joints must go through their full ROM every day to remain healthy. Otherwise, the nutrient-rich and internally lubricating fluid in them cannot properly circulate and cover their surface. This gradually leads to joint stiffness, dysfunction, and deterioration—arthritis.
Physical therapy incorporates ROM exercises, which are aimed at improving the movement of an affected joint, ultimately stimulating its healing and protecting it and its surrounding tissues from further damage. ROM exercises are beneficial for preventing complications, such as shortening of your ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
Before setting up a ROM exercise therapy program, your physical therapist will use a special instrument to measure your ROM, then recommend exercises applicable to the type of ROM limitation that you have.
Importance of Strength Training Exercises
Weakness in the surrounding muscles can put added stress on your affected joint, thereby causing pain even at a slight movement attempt. If you’re suffering from knee arthritis, for instance, physical therapy helps slow down the degenerative process of the knee joint by improving the stability and strength of the muscles in your thighs and calves.
Strength training is more like the final step in the progression of rehabilitative exercise intensity. Rehabilitation for arthritis is essentially about breaking your recovery down into a series of baby steps. If you have severe arthritis, your physical therapist will get you on the first step, which is to simply move; then comes your endurance training, which is typically just light strength training. When you’ve almost completely recovered, proper strength training acts as the final phase.
Bonus: Weight Loss
You must’ve heard time and time again how excess body weight could raise your risk of arthritis or worsen the pain, if you already have it. An extra 15 to 50 pounds puts additional stress on your weight-bearing joints, such as those in your knees and feet. Having excess body fat also puts you at risk of inflammation, which ultimately causes swelling of joints and pain.
Although weight loss is typically not a fundamental goal in physical therapy, the discipline, by its very nature, promotes mobility. The exercises in a standard physical therapy program can, therefore, help you lose those unwanted pounds.
Physical Therapist in Boynton Beach, FL
Living with arthritis doesn’t mean allowing pain to slow you down. Our highly skilled physical therapists at Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches will help you live a normal life by effectively managing its debilitating symptoms.
We offer superior on-site physical therapy services, allowing for seamless, easy monitoring of your care. Our ultimate goal is to help you regain your independence and have you enjoy an improved quality of life.
To schedule an appointment with any of our physical therapists, call (561) 733-5888, Ext. 1. or use our convenient online request form.