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Arthritis is an acute or chronic joint inflammation that causes pain and structural damage. Arthritis can refer to more than 150 different conditions that affect muscles, bones, and joints.
Fortunately, physiotherapy is one of the best treatment options for arthritic pain. Physical therapy focuses on the body’s ability to engage in movement. Movement can be anything from getting in and out of chairs to climbing stairs, walking in your neighborhood, playing a sport or doing recreational activities.
Auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
Crystal deposition in conditions like gout and pseudogout.
Infection causing septic arthritis.
Idiopathic causes juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
The two main types of arthritis — osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis — damage joints in different ways.
The most common type of arthritis, osteoarthritis involves wear-and-tear damage to a joint's cartilage — the hard, slick coating on the ends of bones where they form a joint. Cartilage cushions the ends of the bones and allows nearly frictionless joint motion, but enough damage can result in bone grinding directly on bone, which causes pain and restricted movement. This wear and tear can occur over many years, or it can be hastened by a joint injury or infection.
Osteoarthritis also causes changes in the bones and deterioration of the connective tissues that attach muscle to bone and hold the joint together. If cartilage in a joint is severely damaged, the joint lining may become inflamed and swollen.
In rheumatoid arthritis, the body's immune system attacks the lining of the joint capsule, a tough membrane that encloses all the joint parts. This lining (synovial membrane) becomes inflamed and swollen. The disease process can eventually destroy cartilage and bone within the joint.
A physical therapist can develop a movement plan to help keep you active. The key to successful treatment is knowing your specific complaints and what you want to be done about them. A successful outcome from your visits to the physiotherapists should include learning the exercises you are taught and practising them at home over a long period of time. Improvement is usually gradual in OA, so be patient and carry on the exercise as your body gets stronger and adapts with time.
A physiotherapist’s treatment can also help in relieving persistent pain without having to resort to surgery, and slowly wean you off high medication doses. They can teach you the proper posture and body mechanics for daily activities to improve function or on how to use assistive devices like walkers and canes effectively. They can also offer you expert opinions on the proper use of supportive braces and splints or shoe inserts, ergonomic chairs and padded mats, etc. A lot can be learnt from them to relieve the pain and slow down the degenerative joint disease. A doctor can only do so much, but physiotherapists can do much more as far as arthritis patients are concerned!
Many people are unaware that early intervention by a physiotherapist can help in preserving the integrity and function of an afflicted joint for years – or even a lifetime; early intervention can also stave off unnecessary suffering from debilitating pain and a possible recourse to surgery. The first part of physical therapy is aimed at reducing the inflammation, followed by increasing flexibility and reducing the debilitating stiffness. The last component is strengthening the soft tissue around the joint.
Vigor Physiotherapy is a vital part of treatment for most people with arthritis. Our expert physiotherapy helps keep your joints and muscles moving and helps to get moving on your own.
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