When the weather outside is frightful, your arthritic joint pain is not delightful. Arthritis is another name for pain within the joints, but arthritis can also include swelling, stiffness and a decreased range of motion too. It can happen to anyone at any age, despite the belief that it is a condition that comes with aging.
According to the CDC, more than 54 million adults and 300,000 children have some form of arthritis. In Oregon, it affects over 27% of women and 21% of men (age 18 and over). Often developing following an injury, arthritis can put an end to some activities without appropriate treatment.
Currently, there are no treatments available that will reverse or slow the cartilage break down associated with arthritis. However, you can decrease symptom severity with physical therapy. Here’s why.
- Physical therapy helps strengthen joints that have been weakened due to inflammation.
- Physical therapy helps to reduce joint pain and stiffness.
- Physical therapy helps to improve range of motion.
There is a reason why doctors and other medical providers trust physical therapy in the treatment of arthritis. It is the number one recommended treatment for arthritis. Pain medication and opioids provide temporary relief but don’t address the cause for the pain.
Knee osteoarthritis is a big concern here in Central Oregon. We live such active lives, and our knees take a lot of impact with all of that activity. One study compared home exercises with physical therapy using manual techniques (stretching and knee mobilization). The result found the people who had physical therapy experienced twice the improvement in both pain relief and function compared to those who only did home exercises.
We also have a lot of hip problems in Central Oregon. There are numerous hip arthritis studies, but one study, in particular, was similar to the knee arthritis study mentioned above. Half the participants had physical therapy using manual techniques, and the other half did exercises at home. The result was that the physical therapy patients felt better, had an improved range of motion as well as function. Study patients still felt this relief 29 weeks post treatment!
The moral of the story is not to let arthritis keep you from doing the things you love. Surgery isn’t always the answer, and the research shows that only doing exercises at home isn’t enough. For our younger arthritis sufferers, surgery is often not recommended until later in life. So something must be done to stay active. Give physical therapy a try.
If you have concerns about arthritis, schedule an evaluation with one of our experienced physical therapists. They will talk to you about the options available to help you meet and possibly exceed your health and activity goals.