Pain Relief for Arthritis
Waking up with stiff, aching joints could be a sign of early-onset arthritis, especially if the pain diminishes later in the day as you become more active. Far too many people resign themselves to living with painful joints and do not realize that the pain can be managed and even alleviated with the help of physical therapy and exercise. The types of exercises you can learn from a physical therapist can help you prevent further injury to the joints in day-to-day activities. You can also learn techniques for increasing your range of motion in affected joints. If you’d like to learn more about how physical therapy can reduce the pain and inflammation from arthritis, contact Sports & Orthopaedic Therapy Services in Silver Spring, MD today and schedule a consult.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis is a condition in which a single joint or multiple joints in the body experience pain and inflammation. It is the number one cause of disability in the United States and impacts more than 50 million people, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
There are two main types of arthritis that you’ve probably heard of. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that impacts more women than men. Rheumatoid arthritis is unique in that it can impact joints on both sides of the body simultaneously. Osteoarthritis is the more common type, and that is what people usually mean when they say arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a condition caused by wear and tear on the cartilage in the joints.
People with arthritis usually experience stiff and sore joints first thing in the morning, which subsides after a little while. It can also cause pain during physical activity or work, which goes away after you stop doing that activity and rest. Arthritic joints can be sensitive or painful to touch, and they also tend to be noisy joints, causing popping sounds when bending.
Causes of arthritis
The causes of rheumatoid arthritis are not well understood. It’s an autoimmune condition, meaning the body’s immune system has decided to attack the joints. Researchers believe it could be caused by a combination of a person’s family medical history, hormones, and environmental factors. Because it is caused by an immune response, it tends to impact the same joints on opposite sides of the body.
Osteoarthritis is more straightforward and easy to diagnose. A sudden injury to a joint can lead to arthritis in that joint later in life, even if you fully recover from the injury at the time. An example of this would be a football player who sustains a knee injury: he heals from the injury, continues his career, and then develops arthritis in that knee when he’s in his 50s. If you swing a hammer all day long as a carpenter for your career, you might develop arthritis in that elbow, or in the joints of your hand, due to the repetitive nature of the work. Arthritis is actually very common in athletes who put a lot of strain on their joints and also for people whose jobs require a lot of repetitive motion tasks. Being overweight can also lead to arthritis in load-bearing joints, such as the hips or knees.
Why does this happen? When a joint is in motion, the cartilage between the bones that cushions them wears down over time (or suddenly, in the case of an injury.) When the bones no longer have enough of that protective cushioning between them, it causes them to grind together, which causes the stiffness and pain of arthritis.
How physical therapy can help with arthritis
A physical therapist will work with you to determine the best course of therapy for your type of arthritis. Most people who suffer from arthritis can benefit from working with a physical therapist, according to WebMD. Exercise is an important part of any treatment plan for arthritis, but it has to be done correctly. Your physical therapist will work with you on weight management to avoid additional strain on your joints; posture to ensure that you don’t cause further injury to joints; and specific techniques for alleviating arthritic joint pain. Thermal treatments that include ice or heat packs may be a part of the process, combined with ultrasound or other techniques. The goal is to reduce stress on the joints with arthritis, so you can enjoy a better quality of life.
Put yourself on the natural, healthy path to arthritis relief. If you’d like to know more about how working with a Silver Spring physical therapist can improve your arthritis symptoms, contact Sports & Orthopaedic Therapy Services in Silver Spring, MD today to schedule a consult!
Do your joints feel stiff, achy, or painful, especially when you wake up in the morning? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of arthritis. This is one of the most common symptoms of arthritis, but it is common to also expereince accompanying symptoms. Other sensations you may experience with arthritis include pain in the affected region, which may spread to surrounding body parts; persistent stiffness; inflammation; muscle spasms, joint creaking, clicking, or popping sounds; increased pain with certain activities, such as work or exercise; decreased range of motion in the affected area, abnormalities in gait, such as limping; swelling; weakness; and a warm sensation in the affected joint.
Regardless of the cause of arthritis, physical therapy plays a major role in the treatment of its symptoms. Your physical therapist will conduct a physical evaluation to analyze your joint movement, muscle strength, and overall function, in order to pinpoint the exact areas that are causing you pain. You will then be prescribed a personalized treatment plan, focused around your specific needs. Treatment plans will include targeted stretches and exercises aimed at relieving your pain and improving your function, in addition to any specialized methods your physical therapist deems fit. This may include manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound. Your physical therapist may also include additional services as needed, such as weight management techniques to help ease some stress on your joints, and/or posture improvement to relieve stiffness and prevent injury.
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, containing monoarthritis (where only one joint is affected) and oligoarthritis (where multiple joints are affected). According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 54.4 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with some form of arthritis per year. As we age, the cartilage in our joints wears down, causing painful bone-on-bone rubbing, inflammation, stiffness, and pain. While it is possible for arthritis to develop in any of the joints, the fingers, elbows, shoulders, lower back, hips, and knees are among the most common.
While there is no cure for arthritis yet, it is possible to alleviate arthritic symptoms by improving your joint movement, muscle strength, balance, and coordination through physical therapy treatments. In some cases, physical therapy can even make it possible to eliminate symptoms entirely. For best results, it is in your best interest to consult with a physical therapist as soon as you begin noticing arthritic symptoms. The sooner they get treated, the easier they are to manage. Whatever type of arthritis you may be suffering from, physical therapy undoubtedly plays an important role in pain relief. In addition, it can also help you avoid the need for harmful pain-management drugs or invasive surgical correction.