The two types of arthritis that typically result in arthritic pain are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is common for those over age 60, but it can also be the result of injury, poor mechanics and overuse. This type of arthritis is characterized by a breakdown of cartilage which surrounds joints. It is cartilage that is responsible for distributing forces and lubricating joints. When you don’t have enough of it, the bones rub together and cause pain. Bone fragments can also break off and bone spurs can grow. The spine, knees, hips and hands are the common sites for osteoarthritis. In addition to pain, there’s a decrease in flexibility, and an increase in stiffness and tenderness.
Rheumatoid arthritis is when the body attacks itself; it’s an autoimmune disease. The lining of the joints gradually becomes inflamed. Symptoms include stiffness, tenderness, inflammation, swelling and pain. Rheumatoid arthritis is often found in the feet, wrists and hands. However, if it isn’t properly treated, it can spread to other areas like the knees and hips. Other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis include fever, weight loss, decreased appetite and continual exhaustion. Physical therapy can help both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Physical Therapy for Arthritis Pain: Active Modalities
While there’s no cure for osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, physical therapy can help you manage the symptoms of these afflictions. As a matter of fact, research has shown that physical therapy benefits patients in the short term and long term. Physical therapy consists of both active and passive modalities for treatment. Your physical therapist will do a full assessment of your condition, review goals with you and develop a specific treatment plan to meet your individual needs. A tailored therapeutic exercise program helps with mobility, strength and pain. There’s also manual therapy techniques for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. For example, soft tissue mobilization is very effective for those who suffer from arthritis pain.
Physical Therapy for Arthritis Pain: Passive Modalities
The passive modalities in physical therapy to treat pain from arthritis are:
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Electrical stimulation
- Superficial heat
- Cryotherapy or ice packs
TENS can greatly help reduce pain from arthritis. Electrodes are places to trick the brain into feeling no pain. Electrical stimulation reduces pain, muscle spasm, inflammation and soft tissue edema. Ultrasound is a deep heating modality that helps the tissues of deep joints. It helps with inflammation, pain and improves connective tissue. Superficial heat goes deep into the tissues and reduces swelling and inflammation.
Cryotherapy or ice packs are also effective for arthritic pain. It’s helpful for swelling, pain and reducing local metabolism. Often, these passive physical therapy treatments are an adjunct to active physical therapy treatments. All around, physical therapy is a holistic approach to treating arthritis. You may not have to rely on those pain meds anymore.
No one wants to live in pain. It limits your activities, and it just plain hurts. Take action. Are you suffering from arthritis pain? Don’t wait a minute longer. Contact us at Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Mattawan, Plainwell, E. Kalamazoo, Schoolcraft & Portage, MI centers to schedule a one-on-one consultation and comprehensive assessment of your condition. Let our certified and skilled physical therapists help you reduce pain from your arthritis and live a better lifestyle. We’re committed to your wellness. We’ve helped many others who suffer from arthritis and can help you too.