Do your joints go “snap, crackle, pop?” If so, chances are you could be one of approximately 27 million Americans that are affected by osteoarthritis.
What is osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is a common condition that affects joints such as your hip or knee. Typically, our bones are protected by cartilage and a liquid called synovial fluid. These substances help our joints move without pain. As we age, our cartilage ages with us as it degrades and thins out. As a result, our cartilage cannot protect our joints as well as it did in our younger years. This can lead to an inflammatory process in our joints and result in bones rubbing together causing pain and dysfunction. Other risk factors for developing osteoarthritis in your joints can be family history, history of injury to your joints, sports, and obesity.
How can physical therapy help my osteoarthritis?
Many people with osteoarthritis may experience a temporary reduction in symptoms following rest. However, prolonged rest can lead to increased weakness and decreased overall function of your joints. This is where the expertise of a physical therapist can play an essential role in managing your arthritis. A physical therapist will be able to assess your symptoms and properly dose an individualized treatment program that will help you take control of your arthritis. Physical therapy interventions can be utilized to help decrease the pain, stiffness, and weakness of your joints in order to help you return to your favorite activities!
What will I do in physical therapy to help my osteoarthritis?
- Strengthening Exercises: Your physical therapist with work with you to prescribe specific exercises targeted to strengthen muscles surrounding your joints. Strong muscles are needed to protect joints with osteoarthritis. Your therapist will monitor your symptoms to ensure the appropriate intensity of exercise is utilized.
- Flexibility Exercises: Osteoarthritis makes it difficult to move your joints through their full range of motion. Flexibility exercises are important to maintain the length of the muscles surrounding the joint needed to allow your joints to move through the motion needed to complete day to day tasks.
- Aquatic Therapy: Patients with osteoarthritis may benefit from physical therapy in the aquatic setting to help restore movement. The aquatic setting allows patients to move with decreased pain by reducing the force of gravity while maintaining a challenging environment for therapeutic benefit.
- Manual Therapy: Your therapist may utilize hands-on techniques such as soft tissue massage and joint mobilizations to help restore proper motion of your joints.
If you are experiencing joint pain, contact your primary care physician or come see one of our experts to see how we can help keep you moving!
For more information, please visit: https://www.choosept.com/symptomsconditionsdetail/physical-therapy-guide-to-osteoarthritis
Amanda Lauer, PT, DPT