Physiotherapy is a crucial part of arthritis treatment for many people. Working with other healthcare professionals, physiotherapists guide patients through therapy intending to help their patients resume and or maintain an independent and active lifestyle at work and home. Physiotherapists are experienced in examining movement and recommending ways of protecting your joints. To this end, a physiotherapist will:
– Give you advice and offer reassurance,
– help you attain the confidence of managing your condition,
– Address your uncertainties and concerns, and
– Set appropriate and achievable goals that will help keep you active.
Physiologists are trained in diagnosing and treating muscle and joint problems. As such, your GP might refer you to a physiotherapist rather than an orthopaedic surgeon or rheumatologist.
Typically, your physiotherapist starts by examining your joint(s) to find out where the pain emanates from and asking you questions. Such examinations and assessments help the physiotherapist tailor a treatment that will meet your needs. The treatment may entail:
– A regimen of specific exercises,
– General advice on how to increase your activity level as well as how to avoid incurring exercise-related injuries,
– pain-relief treatments that might include manipulation, taping, ice pack or heat, massage, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines, or acupuncture,
– providing splints or walking aids that can help you stay active, independent, and mobile.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
Understanding How Arthritis Affects You
A physiotherapist will help you understand the issues that affect your muscles or joints when you have arthritis. This knowledge will help you better manage the condition and its effects.
Managing Your Pain
Depending on the kind of arthritis you get, you can suffer pain in one particular muscle, and joint or you might experience general widespread muscles and joints pain. While medication will come in handy, your physiotherapist will educate you about other methods of pain relief that are effective as well. You can handle some of these treatments on your own at home. They include:
– Using ice packs to soothe hot and swollen joints, and
– Using heat packs to relax tense and tired muscles.
Splinting of painful or swollen joints can help you deal with rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Your occupational therapists (OT) or physiotherapists can provide you with temporary splints.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) works by altering pain perception or blocking pain messages to your brain. The TENS machine is an electrical device that uses pads placed on the skin to sends pulses to nerve endings. The electrical signal will cause a tingling sensation that you might find soothing.
Learn more about splints and occupational therapy.
Overdoing things or exerting your body can increase your pain. That being said, not doing enough can cause and or increase your pain. Your physiotherapist will advise you on the best way to increase your activity level, taking into consideration the level of physical activity that your body can cope with. They will help you balance between exercise and rest. This approach to physical activity will help you enjoy the things you like doing.
Undertake Regular Graded Exercise
Graded exercises are exercise routines that you start doing slowly and increase the intensity gradually. This can help strengthen your joints and muscles while also improving your fitness levels. Improving your stamina and fitness can help increase your activity level without experiencing pain. Regular exercises can also stimulate the production of endorphins – your body’s natural pain-relieving hormones.
Your physiotherapist might also offer other treatments, such as the following:
– Massage therapy, which can relax your muscles relax and make the movement of joints more comfortable.
– Acupuncture, which can stimulate production endorphins. There are physiotherapists trained and experienced in giving acupuncture.