Arthritis is a condition that can develop in your joints resulting in pain and restricting your mobility. Although pain and inflammation in joints are major symptoms, different kinds of arthritis can have various symptoms in different people.
Generally, you will experience pain when you utilize a particular joint. The knees, hips, lower spine, feet, and hands are some joints that are most susceptible to the disorder. But can physiotherapy help with these problems? That’s what we’re going to find out.
Table of Contents
Can Physiotherapy Help With Arthritis?
Yes, physiotherapy can help with arthritis, but its effectiveness can depend on many factors. While there is no cure for arthritis, taking the right approach can help to limit your pain and improve your mobility.
A physiotherapist can work with you to determine a customized plan that will aim to improve your symptoms. The type of help you receive largely depends on the type of arthritis you have, so let’s summarise each of them.
Types of Arthritis
Despite the popular perception, arthritis is not a single disorder. In fact, it is a very broad term that is used to describe more than a hundred joint conditions. Here are a few of the most common types of arthritis:
Osteoarthritis – This is the most common type of arthritis and is caused by damage to the cartilage cushion, which facilitates frictionless mobility. Over time, these tissues can degenerate or be impaired by injuries and/or infections, resulting in diminishing protection from the grinding of bones. This directly results in pain and/or inflammation and can restrict your mobility.
Osteoarthritis can also impede the connective tissue in your joints. These tissues are responsible for connecting bones to muscles while providing cohesion to the joint. When cartilage damage is significant, joint linings may also be affected.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – This condition causes the body’s immune system to attack the joint lining which encloses the entire joint. You may feel extended pain or inflammation that makes joint mobility challenging. Moreover, as the condition advances, your joint’s cartilage tissue and bone will also sustain damage.
Gout – This painful condition can trigger inflammation and swelling as hard crystals of uric acid build in your joints. In most cases, the pain is most severe in the first twelve hours, after which gout will commence remission. Although, toes are the most common victims of gout, it can occur in any other joint, including knees and elbows.
Juvenile Arthritis – Juvenile arthritis usually occurs when the immune system attacks the joint linings. Formerly referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, the condition is very similar to adult rheumatoid arthritis, except for the overall damage in the joint that has occurred due to wear and tear.
In some cases, professional help may be necessary, especially if the pain, inflammation, or swelling has continued for more than seven days.
Psoriatic Arthritis – This type of arthritis is linked to psoriasis, a skin disorder which can cause red patches to appear along with silvery scales. Some people with this condition can also develop joint disorders. The symptoms are similar to rheumatoid arthritis, but antibodies that develop in their general form may not be associated with psoriatic arthritis.
It is important to get professional help if you suspect that you have symptoms that may be associated with a form of arthritis. Seeing a doctor becomes especially important if the symptoms persist over an extended period of time, as in most forms of arthritis, the resulting damage tends to escalate with time.
When you visit your doctor, you might be physically examined for symptoms that you may not have noticed on your own. Moreover, the medical team will most likely assess your physical mobility and inquire about any recent changes to your symptoms.
As these disorders can be linked to genetic conditions, the doctor may also inquire about any history of similar conditions in your family.
Your doctor may also recommend an X-ray or MRI to assess and evaluate the joint in detail. These tests can help identify bone fractures or dislocations that may be the source of your discomfort. Moreover, the doctor will also be able to evaluate the damage that has occurred in your joints due to the disorder.
Where Does Physiotherapy Come In?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis. If you are diagnosed with any form of the disorder by your doctor, you will need to manage the condition to optimize mobility according to your lifestyle. This is where a physiotherapist can help.
The form of physiotherapy that is advised will depend on the type of diagnosis that your doctor has made. Some therapies go well with particular types of arthritis, while others are more generic. For instance, hydrotherapy may be utilized by your physiotherapist for different forms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, while specific stretching and flexing exercises may be scheduled on the basis of the joints’ sensitivity.
Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help relieve pain from the arthritis that you are diagnosed with. For rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis, the doctor may also prescribe biologics which help soothe the immune system’s inflammatory response.
Therapeutic injections such as cortisone shots can also help relieve pain. Viscosupplementation can also help improve mobility when the arthritis is restricted to certain joints.
In some cases, your doctor may want to discuss surgical options if medications and physiotherapy are not sufficient on their own to help you deal with the condition. Two major surgeries that may be applicable for arthritis are fusion and joint replacement.
The former binds together two or more bones which reduces the pain caused by the movement of the joint. Joint replacement is essentially the substitution of an artificial joint in place of the damaged joint.
As there is no cure available for arthritis, you will need to discuss your options with your doctor if you have been diagnosed with the condition. Once you do, a physiotherapist can help to improve mobility and possibly reduce pain.
Medications and physiotherapy can help reduce pain and improve mobility, but in some cases, surgery might be required to restore the utility and manoeuvrability of the joint. While arthritis is a challenging condition to cope with, getting the right help can make your life a little easier.