Physiotherapy In Arthritis: How Does It Help
- Arthritis is not to be taken lightly, as it can manifest in both acute and chronic forms.
- Physiotherapy is a type of therapy that focuses on treating arthritis by improving mobility and initiating the functioning of the joints.
- Inactivity causes the surrounding tissue to weaken.
- Keep in mind that you don’t want to put too much pressure on your joints while performing these kinds of activities.
- A good physiotherapist can help you overcome joint pain. All you have to do is be committed and stay consistent in your treatment journey
As we are aware, arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation of joints. It can cause pain and stiffness that also worsens with age. Arthritis is not to be taken lightly, as it can manifest in both acute and chronic forms.
With other common symptoms, it causes trouble and discomfort in one’s ability to move freely, thus affecting mobility.
This is where physiotherapy comes into play. It is a type of therapy that focuses on treating arthritis by improving mobility and initiating the functioning of the joints.
Now, let us understand why physiotherapy?
When someone says physiotherapy, one thing that comes to mind is working out but as a form of treatment. Let's take a closer look at physiotherapy.
Physiotherapy helps patients restore, maintain and even maximize their functioning and strength through movements and various exercises.
Some might have heard of Physical Therapy (PT) and might think it is different from physiotherapy. But PT and physiotherapy mean the same thing, and the terms physiotherapy and physical therapy are used interchangeably.
Your joints work out when you work out
It is well-known that exercising helps in improving overall health. Though some might think that exercising will cause a strain on your joints and rub salt in the wound of joint pain. However, that isn't the case.
Additionally, too much inactivity or lack of exercise makes your joints stiff, causing more pain. Inactivity weakens the surrounding tissues and muscles, later weakening the support they provide to the bones. And this creates more stress on your joints.
Thus, keeping these muscles and tissues strong is the best way to keep the joints functioning properly. How do you do that? By exercising.
How effective is physiotherapy for joint pain
For people with arthritis, a course of physiotherapy is usually advised. These courses are designed in such a way that they are tailored to your needs and help you relieve pain.
Physiotherapy mainly aims:
1. To boost your mobility
- Performing some types of movement and exercises increases your potential for movement.
- It also helps increase flexibility and keeps your body in motion without much room for inactivity.
2. To increase strength by supporting the joints
- As we saw earlier, inactivity causes the surrounding tissue to weaken. This impacts the support of the bones.
- By moving, you increase muscle strength which in turn strengthens the bones.
3. To maintain overall fitness
- Exercising does not just help our joints and bones, but also our overall fitness and well-being.
- It helps us develop endurance, balance, and flexibility.
- As a result of regular exercise, we acquire abilities that make us feel good and make our lives easier.
4. To keep you energized throughout the day
- As a result of exercising, your tissues receive oxygen and nutrients and your cardiovascular system is more efficient.
- When this happens, you feel energized to continue your daily routine.
One exercise at a time
As you learn about the benefits of physiotherapy, let's find out what kinds of exercise might be helpful for you.
However, before starting any type of workout or exercise, you might want to consult your doctor. It is a wise idea to avoid doing anything that could harm you.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to put too much pressure on your joints while working out.
- Low-impact activities are recommended as they are not too taxing on the joints. These activities include walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, etc.
- It has been shown that 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week can give you major health benefits, i.e., 2 hours and 30 minutes. You can plan your workout however you like.
- Remember, moderate-intensity aerobics are most efficient and safe when done most days of the week, but even once or twice a week is better than none.
2. Strength training
The name has it. These kinds of activities help you build strength and endurance. They help you build strong muscles, in turn supporting and protecting your joints.
- One of the most common types of strength training is weight training. Weights help you challenge your muscles and push them to the limits. Weight training is a good way to build muscle and develop a healthy physique.
- Remember to avoid exercising the same muscle groups two days in a row. Rest a day between your workouts, and take an extra day or two if your joints are painful or swollen.
- When starting a strength-training program, a three-day-a-week program can help you jump-start your improvement, but two days a week is all you need to maintain your gains.
- Apart from its many benefits, yoga has been proven to show promising results when it comes to arthritis.
- Doing yoga regularly can truly transform your life, making you physically and psychologically healthy. What some research shows is that even serious injuries are rare if one practices yoga under a certified instructor.
Be kind to your joints
As you are now aware of the types of exercises and activities that help, don’t forget to be kind to your joints. You shouldn't rush into exercising, as it might cause severe pain.
Don't push yourself too hard. When it comes to joint and bone health, it's not about how much you do, but how you do it. You might want to note these tips before you begin:
1. A slow start
Begin slow. There’s no point in rushing. Make sure you consult your doctor and take the right advice.
2. Gentle moves
Move gently. Start with some range-of-motion exercises to warm your muscles. Warming up your muscles will help the muscles to loosen up and get you ready for the workout.
3. Low impact, low stress
Perform activities that are not too stressful on the joints. Low-impact exercises like swimming, cycling, etc. put less pressure on the joints.
4. Ice it up
Once you are done with your exercise, apply some ice to your joints for not more than 20 minutes. This can help your joints relax after the train, and also help with joint swelling.
You now have all the information to get started with your physiotherapy journey. If you wish to seek professional;/expert guidance, consult your doctor or search for nearby physiotherapists.
A good physiotherapist can help you overcome joint pain. All you have to do is be committed and stay consistent in your treatment journey.
As mentioned above, you can start with some light activities, but keep in mind to start slowly.
The positive side to all of it is, even though arthritis is a chronic condition, there are ways to manage it. And physiotherapy for arthritis pain is definitely one of them.
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- Vera-Garcia E, et al. A systematic review of the benefits of physical therapy within a multidisciplinary care approach for people with schizophrenia: An update. Psychiatry Res. 2015 Oct 30;229(3):828-39.