Arthritis is one of the more common issues that adults in the US have. It is the leading cause of disability claims in the US, and, is estimated to be diagnosed in 54 million people across the country. Our physical therapists have been assisting people with their arthritis pain in the greater east valley Phoenix Metro area for over 30 years.
If you’ve got arthritis, you’re not alone. The Arthritis Foundation estimates that 30.8 million Americans are living with arthritis and that the lifetime change of developing arthritis is 25%. Living with arthritis can be frustrating, as the pain caused by the various forms of arthritis can make normal life activities difficult.
What is Arthritis
“Arthritis” is actually a blanket term used to describe joint pain and joint disease. The result is chronic pain. There are many different forms of arthritis, but the two most common types are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a type of arthritis resulting from the gradual breakdown of cartilage in the joints. It’s caused by general wear and tear over the years. Overuse is the likely culprit, but it can also be caused by injuries or excess body weight.
Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks part of a joint and causes it to become swollen. This can be accompanied by hard nodules on the skin near the joint.
Joint pain and stiffness, or “snaps and crackles” when moving a joint are common arthritis symptoms. These are signs that your pain may be coming from arthritis. We recommend that if a joint is painful and you are experiencing these symptoms, that you speak with your doctor. The doctor will check your active and passive ranges of motion and may order more tests to determine the actual cause of your pain.
Physical Therapy for Arthritis Pain
Our physical therapists will guide you through the process of improving your pain through:
- Gentle stretching – working to improve range of motion over time
- Progressive strength training – guided by a physical therapist
- Other modalities such as using heating pads or ice packs for temporary pain relief while improving blood flow.
We also recommend some form of low impact motion such as walking or Tai Chi to continue to reduce pain and control body weight, if necessary. This reduces stress on the joints while reducing the side effects of your arthritis. It may also improve pain and inflammation.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with a form of arthritis, or if it’s a known condition for you, physical therapy is a great option. The tendency with arthritis patients is that they don’t move much due to the pain. Physical therapy is one of the best ways to get you moving in a way that won’t damage your joints, will relieve pain and improve flexibility. This can help restore aspects of your lifestyle that you either struggle with or discontinued altogether.
If you’re interested in discovering what a physical therapist’s help can do for you, give us a call at (480) 833-1005 to schedule an evaluation!