Physical therapy or physiotherapy is a form of healthcare that involves restoring, maintaining, or promoting health through physical examination, physical intervention, prognosis, diagnosis, rehabilitation, patient education, and disease prevention. It primarily focuses on treating problems of the nerves, joints, or muscles through exercise or by moving or rubbing the affected body parts.
This type of therapy is an essential part of treatment for people with arthritis and is performed by physiotherapists, whose primary function is to help patients maintain or resume an independent and active life both at work and home. Physiotherapists are specialists in assessing movements and providing advice on how one can protect their joints.
The work of a physiotherapist includes:
• Offering advice and reassurance
• Helping patients feel more confident about managing their condition
• Addressing any uncertainties or concerns
• Setting appropriate goals for patients to ensure they stay as active as possible.
Physiotherapists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat muscle and joint problems. If you suffer from arthritis or injury that affects your joints and muscles, your general practitioner might refer you to a physiotherapist rather than to an orthopedic surgeon or rheumatologist.
The first time you see a physiotherapist, he or she might start by asking you a few questions and examining the joint that’s troubling you, so they can come up with a treatment option that best suits your needs. Treatment options might include:
- A regimen that involves performing specific exercises
- Advice on how to avoid exercise-related injuries and how to safely increase your activity levels
- Providing you with splints or walking aids that help you stay independent and mobile
- Pain-relief treatments such as massage, ice packs, acupuncture, manipulation, taping, heat packs, or transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
To understand how physiotherapy can help, you need to start by understanding how arthritis affects your bones and muscles. And what better way to understand how arthritis affects you than seeing a physiotherapist for diagnosis and advice? To learn more about arthritis and how to manage its effects, consider getting in touch with a physiotherapist for guidance and treatment. If you are in Fleet then see Fleet sports therapy.
Managing Arthritis Pain
Arthritis can either cause widespread muscle and joint pain or severe pain in one part of your body. While medications do help, still consider visiting a physiotherapist for a more holistic approach to managing arthritis pain. You should be able to continue with some of your treatments in between your appointments. Other options you can use to manage arthritic pain besides medication include:
• Ice packs – can be used to soothe swollen, hot joints
• Heat packs – can be used to relax tired and tense muscles
• Splints – can be used to isolate painful or swollen joints to protect them from further damage
• Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) – often used to block pain messages from reaching your brain. The TENS machine is designed to send pulses to nerve endings through pads placed on the patient’s skin. These pads cause a tingling, yet soothing sensation that effectively cancels out any pain transmissions to the brain.
While overworking yourself could lead to you experiencing joint and muscle pain, you are still not doing yourself any favors by not staying active. In most cases, physiotherapists advise people who experience joint and muscle pain to increase their activity levels at a rate they can manage and find the right balance between activity and rest. Planning how and when you are going to do things can help ensure that you do not strain yourself, allowing you to have a great time doing the thing you love doing.
Take Regular-Graded Exercise
Graded exercise refers to any type of workout that starts slow and increases gradually. Such exercise is good for your muscles and joints as it helps strengthen them and also improves your fitness levels. Improving your stamina and general fitness will make it easier for you to increase activity levels without intensifying the pain. At the same time, regular exercise will stimulate your body to produce endorphins, which are naturally occurring pain-relieving hormones.
Other treatment options physiotherapists offer when it comes to managing arthritis pain include:
• Acupuncture – this treatment option is known to stimulate the production of endorphins.
• Massage – often used for its ability to make joint movement a lot more comfortable and help aching muscles relax
Other treatment options:
• Electrotherapy – involves using options like low-level laser and ultrasound therapy. This option can help kindle the healing process, helping relieve pain.
• Manipulation – often used to improve a joint’s range of movement, manipulation isn’t appropriate for all patients. Speak to your therapist to find out if it could be useful to you.