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How Effective Is Physiotherapy for Arthritis?

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  • Written By: H. Lo
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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Although it depends on a person’s specific condition, physiotherapy is an effective method of management for arthritis. Physiotherapy, also known as physical therapy, is a type of treatment that focuses on managing the physical aspects of a condition. Arthritis is a medical condition that is characterized by inflammation of the joints, which causes symptoms such as pain, stiffness and swelling. In general, the goal of physiotherapy for arthritis is to decrease arthritis pain, and to maintain the joints. Elements of physiotherapy for arthritis include strengthening exercises and joint preservation techniques.

Exercise is an important element of physiotherapy for arthritis. Through exercise, an affected person is able to strengthen his or her muscles, which in turn helps to decrease arthritis pain since the joints are then able to maintain their function without too much stress. The type of strengthening exercises a physiotherapist plans for an affected person depend on his or her condition because the mobility range and existing strength of one individual differs from another. Isometric exercises, for example, help strengthen muscles and do not require the affected person to use his or her joints, so it is not uncommon to see them used in physiotherapy for arthritis.

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In addition to improving and maintaining strength, exercise also helps an affected person maintain the mobility of his or her joints. For example, joints have a normal range in which they move and simply allowing the joints to move through this normal range helps preserve joint mobility. Not only does this exercise enable the joints to maintain movement, it also helps to alleviate stiffness caused by letting the joints stay in one place for too long. A person might find it easier to perform this exercise while in water because water decreases the amount of weight that is normally put onto the joints.

As a part of physiotherapy for arthritis, a person might learn various ways to preserve the joints. For example, the way a person positions himself or herself can have an impact on the joints, and learning how to decrease the amount of stress put on certain areas of the body can aid in joint preservation. To relieve stress, a person might consciously put less weight on a certain joint, or might want to change positions on a regular basis so as to avoid stiffness. In physiotherapy, a physiotherapist might also recommend assistive devices and teach a person how to effectively use them to preserve joint mobility as well. Assistive devices include canes, crutches or walkers.

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SteamLouis
Post 3

@anamur-- I didn't find physiotherapy very effective but I think I was working with a lousy therapist. It's probably worth a try anyway, especially if your doctor is ready to refer you.

bear78
Post 2

@anamur-- I've been to physiotherapy for arthritis and I personally think that it was the most beneficial part of my treatment.

Of course you should manage your pain, but you can also do that with physiotherapy. When people think of physiotherapy, they think that they will just be exercising. Exercise is an important part, but it's not the only one. Physiotherapy also involves various techniques for pain relief and reduction of inflammation because these are necessary to improve mobility.

Exercises, hydrotherapy and massage were all included in my physiotherapy. Along with anti-inflammatory medications, physiotherapy helped me get back on my feet. I live alone, so I have to be able to care for myself. I don't think it would have happened without physiotherapy.

serenesurface
Post 1

My doctor wants me to go to physiotherapy for my arthritis. I'm not against physiotherapy, especially if it's going to help. But right now I'm in too much pain and can barely move. I think I would like to concentrate on pain management right now before I start worrying about strengthening joints.

Has anyone else been in this situation? What is your opinion of physiotherapy?

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