Arthritis Progression

A physical therapist will perform a thorough examination and design an exercise program to overcome weakness. These exercises may include manipulation, massage and electrical stimulation.

Whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, regular physical activity will slow the progression of joint pain.

How physical therapy alleviates arthritis pain. Read more for insights on effective exercises and personalized strategies for relief.

Strengthen Your Muscles

Exercise can help lubricate the joints for smoother movement and build muscle strength to stabilize them. It can also help control weight to take stress off the joints, and improve balance and coordination that can reduce or eliminate injuries and prevent future problems.

Aerobic exercises, such as walking, swimming or biking, get the heart pumping to strengthen the muscles and increase endurance. It’s important to stick to the number of aerobic exercises and time of day recommended by a physical therapist.

PT can also include stretching, and other manual techniques to prevent scar tissue formation and loosen tight muscles.

This can prevent a build-up of fluid in the joints, which increases pressure on the affected area and causes pain and stiffness. It can also improve range of motion and prevent the formation of deformities such as bumps and lumps in the joints.

Avoid Over-Exercising

A therapist can help a person find the right balance of exercise and rest. They can teach patients to manage pain and prevent it from getting worse by following a program that includes flexibility exercises, aerobics and muscle-building strength training.

Aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular health, helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces joint stiffness and fatigue. It also helps reduce the risk of developing inflammatory arthritis. (ref 4)

PT can include manipulation of the affected area, massage of inflamed tissue, specific exercises, treatments using physical stimuli such as heat, cold or electrical currents and a program to gradually get people back into routine exercise.

A physical therapist can also recommend equipment to make exercising at home easier, such as a walking stick or chair. They can also prescribe medications such as DMOADs to slow down OA progression by repairing or restoring cartilage. (ref 5)

Get a Good Night’s Sleep

The right amount of rest helps you feel refreshed and gives your body the energy it needs to function properly. Insufficient sleep can cause weight gain, as well as a host of other health issues. It can also make your arthritis pain worse.

Getting enough sleep can help you manage your arthritis. If you’re having trouble sleeping, a physical therapist can help you get the sleep you need. They may recommend sleeping with a pillow between your knees or a wedge pillow if you have back or shoulder arthritis. They may also suggest that you stop eating 2 or 3 hours before bed to prevent gastrointestinal distress, which can interfere with sleep.

Fatigue and painful joints don’t have to be the norm, but you do need to make some changes in order to get a good night’s sleep. A little tweaking can make a big difference in how you’re feeling and what your pain level is like throughout the day.

Be Active

The old adage of “use it or lose it” applies to your muscles and joints. Keeping active can help prevent stiffness and reduce pain, which can increase with inactivity.

Your physical therapist can recommend low-impact activities that build muscle strength without putting too much strain on joints. Some examples include walking, swimming, elliptical training, and a variety of strengthening exercises.

Depending on the type of arthritis, your physical therapist can also use manipulation techniques, which involve moving or massaging the joint and surrounding tissues. They can also apply heat or ice to ease inflammation and relax muscle spasm.

Your therapist may also recommend assistive devices to help you move around and improve your mobility. They can also make ergonomic changes to your home or workplace to alleviate joint strain. If your doctor has not already referred you for physical therapy, consider making an appointment today. Getting the right physical therapy can help you delay arthritis progression and lead a more active lifestyle.

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