Arthritis Doesn't Disappear -- But Physical Therapy Is Still Good for What Ails You
Did you know that at least 50 million Americans are struggling with arthritis? That's a sizable chunk of the U.S. population, and there's a good chance that you're in that number. If you've already been diagnosed with a common form of arthritis such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, you may have learned that these chronic joint pain conditions can't be cured or reversed. If that's the case, then why would you bother to pursue a course of physical therapy for your arthritis? As it turns out, physical therapy can do quite a lot to help you control your symptoms and optimize your joint function.
Arthritis: A Frustrating Form of Chronic Joint Pain
Over 100 different underlying conditions can cause arthritis or joint pain. Unfortunately, these conditions tend to be chronic in nature. Rheumatoid arthritis, for instance, attacks your joints periodically due to an autoimmune malfunction, causing increasing amounts of swelling and damage to your joints. The most common kind of arthritis, osteoarthritis, is a progressive degeneration of the joint cartilage due to natural wear and tear. As the cartilage continues to disintegrate, your joints become increasingly stiff and painful over the years.
There's nothing more frustrating than sustaining painful physical damage that your body can't repair. In the most severe cases, some people opt for surgery to either fuse the joint in place (preventing painful motion) or replace the joint altogether with a metal implant. If you can't stomach the thought of major surgery, you might assume that your only recourse is a chair-bound life and a daily regimen of painkillers. The problem with this strategy is that the less you use your joints, the stiffer they're likely to get, forcing you to take increasing amounts of medication just to get through the day.
Preserve Mobility and Ease Pain
Even if you can't turn back the clock on the damage done to your joints, you can still do those joint a world of good. The kind of treatment our physical therapist recommends will depend in part on your baseline health and fitness, the type of arthritis you have, and the severity of the condition. Your plan will also be based on your specific goals, from relieving chronic pain to restoring your ability to perform particular activities. It may include:
- Corrective exercises and postural education to help you move around safely, either on your own or with an assistive device
- Walking or cycling to keep your joints as limber as possible
- Strength training to build up the muscles that support and articulate your arthritic joints
- Massage therapy to increase blood flow, relieve chronic inflammation and reduce joint swelling
- The use of heat and cold to ease joint pain without drugs
These and other techniques can have a profoundly positive effect on your arthritis. You'll find that you can move more freely and comfortably, with no need to keep drugging yourself or endure grueling surgery. By controlling your inflammation and preventing more stiffness from setting in, you're setting the stage for many more years of optimal mobility -- despite your arthritis.
Are you ready to set the gears of physical therapy in motion against your chronic arthritis pain? Contact our physical therapist today at FYZICAL Provo to learn more about our services. Then schedule an appointment so that we can devise an effective arthritis management plan for you!