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 various 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 differ 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

Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid arthritis are the two most common types of arthritis. While both types can initially be similar in their symptoms, 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, so it gradually gets worse. Obesity has a strong correlation with this type of arthritis, particularly in the knees. The 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. They include hydrotherapy, massage, heat and cold therapy, or ultrasound. For those 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. It 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 patients reduce pain, gain strength, and increase flexibility and range of motion. It can also help with weight loss, 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. Clearly informing your physical therapist what your desired objectives are will assist them in creating a customized personal plan that is right 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 5 km race as you used to. Whatever it is, a physical therapist can set you on the right path for achieving your goals.


If you or a loved one are suffering from arthritis, contact Preferred Therapy Solutions and how our clinical model can assist your facility contact Jim MacManus, Director of Business Development at #itsallaboutthepatient.