March 1, 2019
Arthritis is one of the most common conditions responsible for pain and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. Although it comes in many forms and affects everyone differently, arthritis typically leads to stiff and painful joints, which restricts patients’ ability to move normally. As a result, many patients reduce or limit the amount of movement in their lives to avoid the painful experience altogether, which can actually makes matters even worse. But the good news is that a course of Laurel physical therapy can effectively address all forms of arthritis and explain to patients that regular movement is really a key step to their improvement.
Arthritis is not actually a single disease, but an umbrella term used to describe over 100 medical conditions, which are known as rheumatoid diseases. In a general sense, arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joints in one or more areas of the body, which affects the mobility of joints and often causes pain and disability.
The three main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis, each of which has its own cause and set of symptoms. Osteoarthritis, the most common type, is a degenerative disorder in which the protective cartilage in joints breaks down and allows bones to rub against one another. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation of the joints along with possible joint and bone damage, while juvenile arthritis includes many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions that affect children under the age of 17.
Arthritis symptoms vary from person to person and depend on the type that is present, but the most common symptoms across the board are swelling and joint pain and stiffness, which all tend to be worse in the morning. People with arthritis may also experience a decrease in range of motion (ROM) of the affected joint(s), redness on the skin surrounding that area, fatigue, weakness, and/or difficulty walking.
Alarmingly, about 23% of American adults have some type of arthritis, which equates to more than 54 million individuals. Arthritis is most common in adults over the age of 65, but it can occur at any age. Women have been found to be more likely to develop arthritis, and people who are overweight are at a higher chance for getting osteoarthritis, as the excess weight puts more pressure on vulnerable joints.
The key role that Laurel physical therapy can play in arthritis management
Since there is no cure for arthritis, the focus of treatment should instead be on managing the condition and alleviating patient’s symptoms. In addition to regular physical activity, there has been a significant amount of recent research to support the use of physical therapy as an effective way to manage arthritis. Physical therapy can help by teaching patients how to work out stiffness without further damaging joints, with the goal of being able to perform and maintain normal everyday activities without difficulty.
The primary goal of physical therapy is to increase flexibility and ROM with a series of specific strategies that are individualized for each patient depending on their needs and abilities. Most importantly, physical therapy has been found to be beneficial for all patients with arthritis, regardless of their age or the severity/type of arthritis they are suffering from. Treatment will depend on these various factors, but a Laurel physical therapy program for arthritis will typically consist of the following components:
- Our physical therapists can help identify activities that are most painful and create solutions such as prescribing assistive devices for daily living when needed
- We will help you improve your body mechanics—how your body moves—and posture, which may often lead to pain if not done properly
- We will perform manual techniques that will stretch and move joints in such a way that will lead to better overall ROM
- An aerobic exercise program may also be prescribed with your limitations in mind, which will increase flexibility and strengthen bones
- Regular heat or ice may be used to address painful regions of the body
- Warm-water exercises may also be recommended to relieve soreness or stiffness due to the buoyancy of water and the soothing properties of the warm water
If you have any type of arthritis and are not satisfied with your condition or limitations, Laurel physical therapy could be the solution you’re looking for. Contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services at 301-776-9443 to schedule an appointment today at any of our four clinics in Laurel, Hyattsville, Glenn Dale/Bowie, or Silver Spring, MD, or click here for more information on physical therapy for arthritis.