Even though it does not cause visible symptoms, arthritis can be very debilitating. The pain and stiffness begin as minor problems that only pop up now and then, but within a few years, you may begin struggling to move and complete even the most basic of tasks. Pain relievers can help, but they only go so far. If your arthritis pain has been increasingly impacting your daily life, then it is time to seek relief by seeing a physical therapist. Keep reading to learn more.
How can physical therapy help arthritis patients?
You might think of physical therapy as being only for athletes and people who have suffered serious injuries. It's true that this is the bulk of their work, but they really are trained to help any and all patients with mobility issues, including those caused by arthritis. A physical therapist will help improve your range of motion, which will allow you to do activities you're not able to do right now. They will strengthen the muscles surrounding your joints, which will reduce strain on the joints themselves. Physical therapy also helps you maintain your fitness in spite of your lost mobility, which is good for your overall health as you age.
What will happen during a session?
Generally, a physical therapy session will begin with some stretches to loosen the muscles surrounding your arthritic joint. Your therapist will guide you through these stretches. They might be a bit uncomfortable at first, but your physical therapist will know just how far you need to stretch to experience benefits and no side effects. After the stretches, they will have you perform some strengthening exercises. These vary depending on what joints you're experiencing arthritis in. For example, if your elbow is affected, you may do exercises to strengthen the muscles in your arm and forearm.
What exercises or protocols might the physical therapist recommend for at-home treatment?
This is the key thing to note about physical therapy for arthritis patients: your success depends on doing your homework. Since you only actually go to physical therapy once a week or so, you will need to do some at-home exercises to keep up your progress between appointments. Your therapist will show you're exactly how to do the exercises and tell you how often to perform them.
Additionally, your therapist may show you different ways you can perform tasks like tying your shoes, climbing stairs, or opening drawers to avoid aggravating your arthritis. They might also recommend supportive devices like splints or shoe inserts.
Physical therapy can be really helpful for managing arthritis pain and stiffness. Contact a physical therapist in person to learn more.