Physiotherapy for Arthritis
Physiotherapy provides the first line of treatment for arthritis and can improve the daily management of both osteo and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms by improving your strength, increasing your range of movement and increasing your muscle activation patterns to protect your joints and bones. As well as helping to manage the symptoms of arthritis, physiotherapy can help to reduce your risk of developing arthritis. This is especially important for people who had an ACL or meniscal injury in their 20s or 30s. The likelihood of developing osteoarthritis after such injuries is very high. Already in your 40’s? Start our preventative program now.
As well as this preventative work, your physiotherapist can help you better manage Arthritis pain and flare-ups with the use of manual therapy, hot and cold therapy / cold packs, laser treatment, electrical stimulation, acupuncture and bracing.
What is Arthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of Arthritis, affecting almost 17 percent of Canadians aged 15 or older. Often referred to as ”wear and tear” Arthritis, OA is a degenerative joint disease that causes inflammation and loss of cartilage in the joints. This can lead to pain, stiffness and inflexibility in joints such as the knees, hips and spine.
Rheumatoid Arthritis is a systemic autoimmune form of Arthritis in which the body’s immune system attacks healthy joint tissue instead of foreign cells. RA affects 1% of Canadians aged 15 or older, causing inflammation in the joints and progressing to painful swelling and immobility in the fingers, wrists, feet or ankles.
How Can Physiotherapy Help Arthritis Pain
Working with a physiotherapist can help you to better understand your pain and how arthritis is affecting you. Knowing more about your body can help you to manage your pain more effectively.
Your physiotherapist will help you to keep moving, improve your physical fitness, and stretch and strengthen your body correctly with the goal of keeping your Arthritis pain under control.
The Life Force Physiotherapy Approach to Treating Arthritis Pain
Teaching Joint Protection Strategies
A critical part of preventing and managing arthritis is understanding what positions, movements and activities are detrimental to your joints and what can help to protect your joints. This is the first step in our treatment approach and is specific to you, your joints and your life situation.
Building the strength of the muscles around joints and bones affected by osteo or rheumatoid arthritis is very important, as these muscles help to stabilize the area. Your physiotherapist will help you design an exercise routine that’s appropriate for your needs and symptoms, and they can supervise as you start to train more independently. Increasing your strength when you have Arthritis helps you to retain your balance and prevent falls, reduces your risk of sprains as well as enhancing your cardiovascular health.
Increase Flexibility and Range of Motion
Arthritis can make movement more difficult, so it is important to regularly work on keeping your joints mobile and soft tissues flexible. Increasing your range of motion and flexibility is critical to restoring functional movement in arthritic joints.
Establish safe movement patterns
Most people understand the importance of muscle strength and joint flexibility in Arthritis but clients are not as aware of the importance of training the muscles to work together efficiently. Similarly to how an orchestra functions, each muscle needs to turn on and off at the correct intensity and timing for joint safety to be optimized. The Life Force Physiotherapy team offer exercise programs that groom the correct muscle patterns to protect joints.
Exercise, manual therapy and heat therapy can help in specific cases to promote blood circulation around a stiff joint such as the knee, helping the muscles and tendons around the joint to move more easily so that stiffness is reduced. Your physiotherapist can help you to understand the correct use of both heating and cooling pads for your specific needs as well as other treatment approaches.
Arthritic hips and knees are very vulnerable to the stresses and strains caused by body weight. Managing your weight and maintaining it below 25 on the body mass index (BMI) is a critical part of the Life Force Physiotherapy strategy to reducing the functional impact of arthritis. The Life Force Physiotherapy Team can support you on a weight loss strategy.
While education, exercise and weight control is the best long-term approach to the management of arthritis there are times the joint(s) are too painful and inflamed to tolerate exercise. Management of an acute arthritic joint many require local joint treatments including manual therapy, hot/ cold packs, laser and other treatment modalities which are passive treatments used for Arthritis flare-ups.
Are you looking for advice for dealing with your arthritis pain? Please don’t hesitate to book an appointment with a Life Force physiotherapist to discuss your symptoms. We’re here to help!