13.05.22 | Noreen Hiltsley

Arthritis Awareness Month – Understanding Who Physical Therapy Can Help

While there are over 100 types of arthritis, one of the things almost all types have in common is that those who are suffering can benefit from physical therapy. Because there are different types of arthritis, the methods used in physical therapy will be different, as will the potential outcomes of the physical therapy. The goals of the patients will be different too. In this article, we will look at the most common types of arthritis, the types of physical therapy that might help, and the possible outcomes of receiving physical therapy.

The Two Most Common Types of Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are the two most common types of arthritis. Both types can initially be similar in their symptoms, but their causes are dramatically different.

Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints of the body. It often takes years for the symptoms to build and it gradually gets worse. Obesity has a strong correlation with arthritis, particularly in the knees. Previous injury can also contribute to the onset of osteoarthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease. Its cause isn’t known, but it is thought to affect about 0.2% of the population. Rheumatoid arthritis has a much more sudden onset than osteoarthritis. Symptoms can get much worse over the course of weeks, and they often include swelling of the joints.

What Types of Physical Therapy are there?

Physical therapy can be broadly divided into two categories: passive treatments, and active treatments.

Passive treatments are often helpful with severe cases of osteoarthritis and early cases of rheumatoid arthritis. Passive treatments include hydrotherapy, massage, heat and cold therapy, or ultrasound. For those who are in too much pain to begin active therapy, these options can help get them ready to start becoming more active.

Active therapy can be used to prevent osteoarthritis from becoming worse, and can also be used once sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis are able to increase their range of motion and activity. Active therapy includes flexibility and strength training, aerobic exercise, and some forms of hydrotherapy.

Active therapy will help you to reduce pain, gain strength, and increase your flexibility and range of motion. It can also help you to lose weight which can be a main contributing factor to the pain caused by arthritis.

The Outcome of Physical Therapy
When starting physical therapy patients should clearly specify the goals they want to achieve. Telling your trainer what you want to achieve will help them to craft a specific training plan for you. You might have a goal as simple as getting out of your car without feeling pain, or it might be a bigger one like running a 5km race as you used to. Whatever it is, a physical therapist can set you on the right path to achieve it.

If you are suffering from arthritis, or even want to prevent its onset, talk to the professionals at Preferred Therapy Outpatient and Wellness about therapy options offered and how our experienced team can help you or your loved ones.