Physical Therapy for Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, and although it is often related to aging, it is not a normal part of aging. Osteoarthritis breaks down the cartilage in the joints and when this cartilage is lost, the bones rub together and over time this rubbing can permanently damage the joint. This results in pain, stiffness, swelling and reduced motion in the joints. Osteoarthritis typically affects the hands, knees, hips or spine.
Research confirms that physiotherapy can help alleviate the symptoms of arthritis. Therapeutic exercise, manual therapy, acupuncture and electrotherapy can reduce joint pain in patients suffering with Osteoarthritis. The Arthritis Society endorses physiotherapy, noting that, “Pain is one of the hallmark symptoms of arthritis, but it should not interfere with something as vital to your physical and emotional well-being as physical activity. A physiotherapist can design, modify and monitor your exercise routine”
1. Is it joint or muscle pain?
Muscle pain (within limits) is normal, and can occur when you do something you haven’t done for a while. Joint pain is not normal. If you have had joint pain in the past year and for most days of the month, get a comprehensive assessment from your physiotherapist to determine if your symptoms indicate Osteoarthritis.
2.Build your muscles up.
Keep your muscles strong around the arthritic joint to support it. Be physically active with cardiovascular and strength exercise – biking, walking, aquatic exercise. Your physiotherapist can provide an exercise program to help you build strength to limit the effects of arthritis once you are diagnosed.
You can restore and maintain the mobility of your arthritic joint with regular exercise. When increasing your activity or starting your physiotherapy program, give yourself rest breaks during the day to compensate for the increased activity. Many types of arthritis are characterized by bouts of extreme tiredness that can leave you drained of energy. Balancing activities, exercise, and rest times is critical to staying healthy and physically active, and to increasing energy.
4.Use tools to help.
If you suffer from hand osteoarthritis, your physiotherapists can suggest tools that protect your hand joints and help you manage daily activities. Aids such as ergonomic handles, assistive jar openers, electric can openers, and other devices will also help you maintain independence.