Osteoarthritis affects millions of people worldwide. With this condition, your joints will become stiff, painful, and difficult to move. Sadly, this can make daily tasks challenging, but thankfully there’s a lot of help out there.
While there isn’t any cure for osteoarthritis, physiotherapy can help to alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Here we’ll answer the question of will physiotherapy help osteoarthritis and look at the different treatment options available to you.
Overview Of Osteoarthritis
Cartilage breakdown in the joints is the hallmark of this condition, which causes discomfort, immobility, and impairment in daily activities. Any joint is at risk, but the hands, knees, hips, and spine are especially vulnerable to osteoarthritis.
Following are some of the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Joint fluid can swell bones
- One may feel cracked joints
- There may be a grating or cracking noise while moving
- A bony outgrowth (a “bone spur”) may also develop on the afflicted joint
While researchers have yet to pinpoint a specific cause for osteoarthritis, they have identified several risk factors. Joint injury, ageing, family history, secondary arthritis, an occupation involving more pressure on joints, obesity and gender are some risk factors.
Osteoarthritis management incorporates both drug and non-drug approaches. However, priority is given to non-drug treatments.
The low risk of side effects and a high potential for positive outcomes make non-drug treatments a top choice for treating osteoarthritis, including physiotherapy. For osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, exercise is important to retain or improve mobility.
Will Physiotherapy Help Osteoarthritis?
Will physiotherapy help osteoarthritis? The answer is yes! Physiotherapy help osteoarthritisis an effective way to treatment for osteoarthritis. Since the aims of osteoarthritis treatment is to reduce pain, strengthen muscles, and improve balance, physiotherapy helps improve these areas.
Physiotherapy’s strengths lie in its ability to promote mobility, flexibility, and power for the following reasons.
- It fosters the development of additional articular muscle mass
- Stretches out muscles and increases mobility
- Brings down the swelling and inflammation in the afflicted joint
- Limits the progression of osteoarthritis
- Maintains a healthy weight to lessen the strain on joints
Much evidence indicates that working on your muscle strength can have significant benefits when living with arthritis. Strength training can help osteoarthritis patients with stair climbing, running, squatting, and jumping. A multi-treatment approach will allow you to enjoy a great quality of life.
Physiotherapy Techniques to Help Osteoarthritis
The effectiveness of physiotherapy for osteoarthritis sufferers varies from person to person. This is because people have different body mechanics, strengths, pain thresholds, and arthritis development. Therefore, the plan your physiotherapist puts in place for you will depend on your specific needs.
You can try a range of things to reduce your arthritis symptoms. Here we’ll look at the treatment options available through physiotherapy.
An essential aspect of physiotherapy for osteoarthritis is exercise. A physiotherapist will typically design an exercise program that focuses on strengthening the muscles around the affected joint and improving flexibility and range of motion.
Low-impact aerobic exercise and strength training can help improve joint mobility, reduce pain, and increase flexibility. This can help to reduce the load on the affected joint, reduce pain, and improve function.
Physiotherapists often recommend swimming as the best aerobic exercise. Unlike other forms of exercise, swimming puts very little stress on joints while helping to improve cardiovascular health and strength.
A person can perform these non-endurance exercises using light weights and exercise equipment. Before beginning a weight training programme, starting with bodyweight exercises (which don’t require additional equipment) is ideal because they are one of the safest ways to develop strength and mobility. For example, a physiotherapist may advise doing push-ups, squats, and lunges.
Plate work and yoga are great examples of flexibility exercises that you can use to increase muscle strength gradually. These exercises are ideal for those who have yet to work out but want to improve their mobility gradually.
Due to the stiffness in the joints that arthritis causes, flexibility exercises can help reduce pain. In addition, strength and stamina will increase over time, reducing the impact of osteoarthritis on daily life.
One of the most common treatments used in physiotherapy clinics is manual treatment, such as joint mobilisation and soft tissue massage, which can benefit people with osteoarthritis.
The physiotherapist will use manual therapy techniques such as bending, twisting, and stretching your limbs and back to help you regain mobility and reduce scar tissue. These techniques can help to reduce stiffness and improve the range of motion.
Heat and Cold Therapy/ Thermotherapy
Heat and cold therapy can help reduce osteoarthritis pain, inflammation, and stiffness. A physiotherapist will perform it with packs, towels, and wax by applying heat or cold to the affected area.
Heat application can ease pain and stiffness by increasing blood flow and decreasing muscle tension, while cold can dull the pain, reduce swelling, constrict blood vessels, and halt the transmission of nerve impulses to the area.
Electrical stimulation is a form of physiotherapy that stimulates muscles and nerves with electrical current. Electrical stimulation can help reduce pain, improve joint mobility, and increase muscle strength. The main idea is to use an electrical current to stimulate muscle contractions, inhibit pain signals, and increase blood flow.
To aid in recovery from an injury or illness that has caused pain or restricted mobility, your physiotherapist may recommend electrical stimulation.
Education on Pain Management
A physiotherapist may also provide education on pain management, body mechanics, and assistive devices such as canes or walkers. They also recommend self-care treatments you can practice at home between your physiotherapy sessions.
People with osteoarthritis will benefit greatly from physiotherapy. The sooner you begin physiotherapy, the less severe the osteoarthritis will be. It’s essential to consult a physiotherapist to develop an individualised treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals.
Remember that physiotherapy isn’t a magic bullet for osteoarthritis, as there is no cure. However, physiotherapy will reduce the impact that your symptoms have on your day-to-day life. This will improve the quality of your life and allow you to fight back against your osteoarthritis.