Can Physiotherapy Help With Arthritis?

August 21, 2023 / Arthritis, Exercises, Physiotherapy
Can Physiotherapy Help With Arthritis?

Physiotherapy can be beneficial for individuals with arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that involves inflammation and stiffness of the joints, leading to pain and reduced mobility. Physiotherapy aims to improve joint function, alleviate pain, and enhance overall quality of life through various techniques and exercises. Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about physiotherapy and its role in managing arthritis:

What is arthritis or osteoarthritis?

Physiotherapy for Arthritis
  • Arthritis, also known as Osteoarthritis (OA), is one of the most common causes of a decrease in mobility and an increase in disability among older adults. It is a common condition affecting the joints, most often the knees, hips, lower back, neck, and fingers.
  • In a typical joint, there is a smooth layer of cartilage over the surfaces of the bones. This cartilage has several purposes, including distributing weight evenly during movement to minimize friction and absorb any shock.
  • In OA, this cartilage breaks down and causes bones to rub against each other, producing pain and, therefore, disuse of that joint. Muscle weakness due to decreased use is a commonly associated issue in osteoarthritis, which affects function and mobility in many ways.

Can physiotherapy help with the pain?

Yes, physiotherapy can help manage arthritis pain by utilizing techniques such as manual therapy, joint mobilization, and soft tissue manipulation. These techniques can help reduce pain and improve joint function.

Can physiotherapy prevent joint deformities in arthritis patients?

Early intervention through physiotherapy can help prevent or minimize joint deformities by maintaining joint function, improving muscle balance around the affected joints, and promoting proper biomechanics.

Can physiotherapy reduce the need for medication?

In some cases, successful physiotherapy can lead to reduced reliance on pain medications or other arthritis-related drugs. However, this should always be discussed with a healthcare professional.

How long does it take to see results from physiotherapy for arthritis?

The timeline for seeing results can vary based on the severity of arthritis, the individual’s response to treatment, and consistency in following the physiotherapy program. Some individuals may experience improvements within a few weeks, while others might require more time.

Is physiotherapy suitable for all types of arthritis?

Physiotherapy can be beneficial for various types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriatic arthritis. However, the approach may vary depending on the specific type and individual needs.

How can strength training help arthritis?

  • The strength in the muscles surrounding a joint is directly related to the progression of osteoarthritis. Studies show that muscle weakness after decreased use of the joint due to pain can actually make OA progress faster, further exacerbating the disability. In normal aging, there can already be some underlying muscle wasting or weakness, making function even more difficult.
  • The goals of strength training are to decrease pain, protect against worsening of the condition, and improve self-efficacy and general health/well-being. Below are some ways strength training can help OA:
    • Improve joint mechanics by offloading the join with stronger muscles
    • Reduce joint pain by normalizing neural firing patterns
    • Decrease cartilage degeneration by decreasing inflammatory chemicals in the body that breakdown cartilage
    • Decrease depression and anxiety by increasing self-efficacy, independence, and mobility
  • Older adults without existing osteoarthritis can lower their chances of getting it with increased strength!

What does the evidence show?

  • Pain decreased by almost 50% in as little as 2 months of strength training
  • Improve walking distance by 30-45%
  • Significantly decrease progression of OA in the long-term, up to 30 months after beginning strengthening exercise

What are some of the changes I can expect to see after seeing a physiotherapist?

Changes you will see!

  • Easier to go up and down the stairs
  • Less pain during squatting and kneeling tasks
  • Ability to walk longer and faster, allowing you to enjoy outdoor activities
  • Better mood and decreased emotional stress

What are some exercises to do for arthritis?

Examples of exercises

  • Swimming
    • great for taking the weight of your joints but challenging your muscles against the weight of the water!
  • Squatting up and down from a chair
    • You do this every day and it will translate directly into easier activities of daily living!
  • Biking
    • Another very functional, strengthening exercise that also incorporates aerobic training to increase overall health
  • Single leg balance

How do I book an appointment at a Physiotherapy Clinic near me?

Click HERE to book an appointment with a physiotherapist or chiropractor at one of our eight locations.