Will Physical Therapy Help?

When you have arthritis, you may have a little bit of joint pain and stiffness or you may have a lot. No matter how intense your pain, you may wonder if physical therapy will help. In most cases, the answer will be yes.
Part of the reason why people with arthritis have joint stiffness is because they avoid movements that can make it hurt more. The problem is that NOT moving causes the pain to get worse. This is why physical therapy will help, because a therapist can teach you how to move and work out the stiffness without causing further damage. However, the way physical therapy is most beneficial is after a fall or another type of injury, or right after having some type of joint surgery.
One way physical, or occupational, therapy can help most is by teaching you to learn how to move so you will reduce the strain on your joints. Therapists can teach you how to make simply changes to your home, work and life to make arthritis less of a problem. This may also include using aids such as zipper pullers, grippers to reach for items on shelves or other assistive devices. The therapist will be able to offer advice to make day-to-day activities easier and less painful for you.
Physical therapy can be beneficial to teach you about the type of arthritis you have. The more you know about what ails you, the better prepared you are to make necessary changes. Most often, a physical therapist will recommend that you lose weight if necessary because carrying extra weight can make arthritis pain worse in your back, leg, hip and feet joints. They will also be able to teach you about relieving pain naturally and/or with medication. Modified activities may also be part of your therapy so you can improve your daily life without pain.
How do you know if physical therapy is right for you? Your doctor will be the best person to speak with concerning starting physical therapy. If they feel it is a valid option, they will work closely with a physical therapist to design a program of treatment just for you. Of course, they will also want your input to be able to determine what you think you can do and help you set realistic goals.
If you do begin physical therapy, a therapist will design a program of exercises to help you reduce pain and stiffness in your joints. However, it is also important to increase muscle strength surrounding the joints, which will help to stabilize them. Flexibility, balance, coordination and endurance exercises may also be included. With your limitations taken into consideration, the therapist will access your ability and teach you how to perform range-of-motion exercises that will help you live your life without the problems associated with arthritis.
Is physical therapy always the solution for someone suffering from arthritis pain? The truth is, physical therapy is not always the only answer. It can help those who have developed arthritis after an injury or those who have had joint replacement surgery. It may not be the best choice for someone with mild arthritis. People who have a milder case of arthritis may be able to ease the pain and stiffness with heat and cold therapy or other natural supplements.
By: Dr. Sandra Miranda, ND

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