At Active Physiotherapy, we treat many patients suffering arthritis to alleviate pain, , inflammation, and other symptoms of discomfort. We also help patients manage this disease so that their day-to-day life is as comfortable as possible. You may hear arthritis referred to as “rheumatism.” While this isn’t a disorder itself, it is often used to describe joint or muscle pain.
Arthritis is a disease that affects the musculoskeletal system—particularly the joints. There are over 100 different types of arthritis. Unfortunately, 1.5 million Australians living in Victoria suffer from this and other conditions affecting the musculoskeletal structure. Arthritis is not limited to the elderly; it also affects children and young people, regardless of background and lifestyle. Arthritis causes pain and swelling in the joints, and eventually a swollen joint can suffer severe damage. Generally, arthritis is caused by a combination of factors such as your gene pool, an injury, a physically demanding job, weight problems (which cause strain on the joints), infections, and even some foods that can bring on symptoms. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Symptoms of Arthritis
The symptoms of arthritis will depend on the type of arthritis you are suffering, but the joints mainly affected are the hips, hands, knees and spine, and there are a number of common symptoms:
- Discomfort and pain in your joints.
- Swelling in a joint or multiple joints.
- Appearance of redness and feeling of warmth in a joint.
- Feeling of stiffness or reduction in joint movement.
- Feeling tired and generally unwell.
The Benefits of Physiotherapy for Arthritis Pain Management
Active Physiotherapy physiotherapists can tailor a program to help maintain joint mobility and movement depending on the severity and type of arthritis affecting you.
- Physiotherapists will ensure you undertake an assessment to determine how limiting your arthritis is, and tailor a program to improve your lifestyle.
- Physiotherapy massage can help to alleviate pain, swelling, and tenderness.
- A program of gentle exercise and stretching will encourage stiffness to dissipate.
- Our physiotherapists will be able to devise a plan to help make subtle changes in lifestyle to reduce arthritis (such as diet and weight management).
- Where necessary, we will be able to provide you with hydrotherapy to reduce your symptoms.
- Dry needling undertaken in a physiotherapy setting using solid needles can treat muscular pain and alleviate arthritis.
- Ultrasound can be used to treat arthritis (using sound waves to target affected areas).
- Physiotherapy will help you maintain independence, as it helps to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility.
- Your physiotherapist can provide the use of a TENS machine, which stimulates the nerves therapeutically and relieves arthritic symptoms.
The Prevention and Management of Arthritis Symptoms
While there is no cure for arthritis, the condition can be managed through medical treatment from a GP or specialist coupled with physiotherapy, exercise, and a symptom control program for use at home. Here are some Active Physiotherapy suggestions for the management of arthritis:
- Exercise or stay active, as being physical will improve muscle strength, keep joints flexible, and reduce pain. Our physiotherapists are able to devise a tailor-made program to help you maintain your exercise levels.
- Understand how to manage your arthritic pain, such as using the correct medication, stretches, and movement. Once you know how to manage your condition it will become easier to deal with.
- Ensure you maintain a balanced, nutritious, healthy diet so your general health remains good. Sticking to a healthy weight suitable for your size is also important, as excess weight will put pressure on joints.
- Taking time to learn about equipment or aids available to help make life easier can help you to protect your joints. Seek advice—our physiotherapists can put you in touch with someone to help you with this.
- Spend time working with your healthcare team (including our physiotherapists), as we can help make your life easier and more comfortable.
- Explore the possibility of taking a self-management course designed to help arthritis sufferers improve their way of life and improve confidence to live as full a lifestyle as possible. Alternatively, join a peer support group so you know you are not alone. It is always comforting to speak to others in the same position as you.