Arthritis Treatment

Arthritis

We see lots of patients who have pain due to arthritis at SSOR.   People fear the word arthritis because the vision it causes is a frail, elderly person limping around.  Arthritis can start early in life actually depending on your history of injury, surgeries, activity levels, and bodyweight.  We often tell our patients who worry about it or fear the term “welcome to the human race because we’re all going to get it!”  It’s a humorous spin on arthritis more so to help calm people’s fears about it.
Arthritis is a condition that afflicts virtually all people as they age. It affects almost every joint in the body.  Most commonly, we see arthritis in the knees, hips, and spine.  Arthritis pain is characterized by achy, stiff joints in the morning that feel better as the day goes on.  People with arthritis also complain of pain when they get up to move after being in a prolonged position for an extended period of time.  So, long drives, long flights, or watching the “Godfather” trilogy with no breaks will make people with  arthritis miserable.  Arthritis pain is also worse typically at the end of day after doing normal daily activities.  It is not reversible and can get progressively worse over time.   The good news is that physical therapy can be very effective for arthritis.  At SSOR, our approach is comprehensive, thorough, and helpful.
A recent review by Adams et al in Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Review discussed interventions for arthritis.  The review found that there is strong evidence supporting manual therapy, exercise, education, and weight management.   So what’s all that mean for you?
Arthritis Treatment
Manual Therapy – manual therapy includes both joint mobilization techniques as well as soft tissue techniques.  At SSOR, we spend a significant amount of time each session on soft tissue limitations that make joints stiff and tight.  After the soft tissues are addressed, we’ll perform gentle mobilizations to the joints in question to help improve mobility and reduce pain.  Mobilizations are effective because they help re-establish normal joint glides and slides.  If physical therapy is effective, you should see some improvements in range of motion and pain almost immediately.

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Manual Therapy to the Knee for Arthritis


 
Exercise – it should come as no surprise that strengthening and flexibility are integral parts of treatment for arthritis.  Stiff muscles limit range of motion and because they are tight, add more compressive forces to joints.   These extra compressive forces may accelerate arthritis, so staying flexible is key.  Secondly, strengthening exercises are critical.  Because weight-bearing exercises may cause more pain and stiffness, there should be a balance of those as well as non-weight bearing strengthening.   There are numerous exercise choices in non-weight bearing to strengthen the hips and knees.  Progression of exercise as well as exercise selection should not cause more pain and stiffness, but should improve function.  Non-impact activities like Pilates, yoga, elliptical machines/stationary bikes, and pool therapy are also fantastic adjuncts to traditional strengthening exercises.
Weight Management – hopefully, it makes sense that with decreased bodyweight, there are less forces on the joints.  Many times, people with arthritis say that their joints hurt, so they can’t work out.  While they might not tolerate jogging or impact activities, there are lots of options to help stay active and keep weight down.  Swimming, biking, water aerobics, no impact aerobics, and ballroom dancing are just a few examples of activities that will help you stay active and manage your weight.  Of course, dietary modifications are a huge part of this as well.
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The physical therapists at SSOR understand how to treat pain and decreased function from arthritis effectively and quickly.  It would be a privilege to serve you and help you achieve the outcome you desire.  Give us a call – remember, you don’t need a referral from a physician to see a PT in Kansas anymore.