Arthritis, in all its forms, affects many of our lives and quality of life. The overall goal for most people with arthritis is to improve mobility in the affected joints and eliminate pain associated with this stiffness. Some want to work on specific fitness goals while others simply want the ability to perform everyday activities with ease.
Your physiotherapist can help you develop better techniques for jogging, or even the proper way to use assistive devices such as nordic walking poles, canes, and walkers, depending on your degree of function. They will teach proper posture and movements for everyday activities. Keeping active is an essential component of managing your arthritis, as many know and report great complaints of “stiffness”. Your physiotherapist will help you with developing an activity plan specifically for you and your needs! To combat the stiffness you need to move, the questions some days is ‘how much?’.
Specific exercises to strengthen and support the affected joints are essential to maintain an active lifestyle. Your physiotherapist will teach you how to relieve pain associated with arthritis, and prevent progression of the disease, including therapies you can use on your own at home.
Your physiotherapist may include some of the following therapies in your treatment plan:Tissue & joint mobilizations: which is used to relax sore muscles often times cause by over compensation, and keep joints lubricated.
- Acupuncture: stimulates the release of endorphins resulting in pain relief.
- Electrotherapy and Ultrasound: used as a means of stimulating healing while at the same time reducing pain
- Hot and/ or cold therapies: are used to relax and soothe inflamed joints and sore muscles. This is often times recommended for at home treatment.
- TIP: Many individuals come in with stiffness in their hands. We often recommend heat to alleviate this stiffness. Instead of using a typical hot pack, we often recommend using a microwave safe container filled with dry lentils or beans. Microwave the beans on medium high for a few minutes. You can rest your hands in the beans for an all around heat that will conform to your hands and soothe inflamed joints. Even doing a sink full of dishes may help with stiffness as the hot water also helps soothe your joints.
The overall goal of physiotherapy for arthritis is to provide you with the fundamental education and movement to work on your own rehabilitation at home. It is very important that you understand your arthritis in order to begin to manage its effects and your physiotherapist will help you do this. Once you understand your arthritis and are able to perform your exercises on your on your own you can check in at intervals discussed with your therapist to update your exercise program and re-evaluate your treatment strategy.
Remember many types of arthritis and inflammatory conditions exist. To name a few: rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, gout, osteoarthritis. A great resource for more information on arthritis is the Arthritis Society's website, https://arthritis.ca.