Can Physical Therapy Alleviate My Arthritis?

Jun 01, 2023
Can Physical Therapy Alleviate My Arthritis?
Millions of people suffer from arthritis and the pain and stiffness it causes. If you're one of them, physical therapy could be just what you need to relieve your symptoms while avoiding constant pain reliever use. Here’s how it works.

Nearly 60 million Americans — or about one in four adults in the United States — have been diagnosed with arthritis, a group of degenerative or inflammatory diseases that have a major impact on joint health and function. While there’s no cure for arthritis, its symptoms can be managed and its progression slowed, but it’s important to start treatment early. 

Offering island-wide care at our locations in Kihei, Kahului, and Lahaina, Hawaii, Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy helps patients relieve painful arthritis symptoms with custom-tailored treatment plans, often featuring physical therapy services to improve joint function and reduce discomfort. 

In this post, our skilled team offers a quick overview of arthritis, and explains how physical therapy works to help you ease arthritis symptoms, improve range of motion and mobility, and restore a better quality of life.

Quick facts about arthritis

There are several types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type that we tend to think of when we hear the word “arthritis.” OA happens when years of wear and tear degrade the cartilage layer that protects the joint surfaces, leading to inflammation and further joint destruction over time. 

Other types of arthritis occur as part of a defective immune system response, from infection, or even after joint surgery. All types of arthritis involve inflammation inside the joint, along with gradual joint destruction.

In addition to joint pain, arthritis can cause symptoms like:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Joint swelling
  • Joint tenderness
  • Warmth over the joint
  • Limited mobility

Because arthritis symptoms are chronic and progressive, people who suffer from the disease typically find their quality of life suffers, as well, especially as increasing joint damage takes a toll on their usual activities.

How physical therapy can help

While some mild arthritis symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce pain and inflammation, these products become much less effective as the disease progresses. What’s more, long-term use of oral pain relievers can lead to serious side effects, including upset stomach and other digestive disorders, as well as an increased risk of kidney or liver damage.

Physical therapy works without medication by gradually improving joint function while decreasing inflammation that causes pain. Activities focus on strengthening the muscles and other tissues that support the joint, helping to take some of the strain off the joint surfaces. 

Exercises and gentle stretches reduce inflammation while promoting circulation that aids in healing. Perhaps most importantly, physical therapy is entirely customizable. Your therapeutic program may include multiple options, like:

  • On-site exercises and activities
  • Home exercises and stretches
  • Manual therapy, like massage and other “hands-on” treatments
  • Soft tissue mobilization
  • Hot and cold therapy
  • Use of supportive or assistive devices

We can even tailor your therapy program to suit the physical demands of work, in addition to helping you feel more comfortable during leisure activities and day-to-day chores.

As with any chronic medical problem, arthritis responds best when treatment begins early. If you have any arthritis symptoms, scheduling an evaluation is the first step toward developing a therapy program that works for your unique needs.

Find relief for your arthritis symptoms

Don’t let arthritis limit your activities or your enjoyment of life. To learn how physical therapy can help relieve your symptoms and protect your joint health, book an appointment online or over the phone with Minit Medical Urgent Care and Physical Therapy today.