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Deal with Arthritis by Taking Advantage of Physical Therapy

There are more than 100 types of arthritis, and all of them can be painful, debilitating, and life-changing. Some of the most common types are

  • Osteoarthritis – The protective cartilage inside the joint breaks down. This makes the movement of affected joints more difficult and painful.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis – The body’s immune system attacks the joints and other organs. Over time, the persistent inflammation breaks down the joint and damages it permanently.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis – An autoimmune inflammatory disease in which the immune system attacks the body, causing inflammation and pain.

Additionally, once a joint is showing arthritic changes or degeneration, the degeneration will not reverse. That means the pain caused by arthritis will be lifelong.

Many people may ask, “If there is no reversal to my arthritis, why should I get physical therapy? Will it help?”

The short answer is, yes. However, a more detailed explanation will help you understand how.

The goal of a physical therapy session is to teach you how to do things in your treatment plan, like performing certain exercises, for yourself. The visits often focus on identifying the painful and problem areas, and the issues associated with them. A successful outcome is learning the exercises from the PT and practicing them at home. Keep in mind, improvement is gradual, and the body gets stronger over time. That is to say, consistent practice is essential.

PTs will develop an individualized plan of exercises to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance to achieve optimal physical function.

  • Teach you proper posture and body mechanics for everyday daily activities to relieve pain and improve function.
  • Show you how to use assistive devices such as walkers and canes properly.
  • Recommend different treatment options, such as braces and splints to support joints, shoe inserts to relieve stress on the lower extremities, and hot and cold therapy to ease joint pain and stiffness.
  • Suggest modifications to your environments, such as ergonomic chairs or a cushioned mat in your kitchen, to relieve pain and improve function.

If you have a certain goal in mind, like reaching items in your kitchen cabinets, taking a walk, or performing your job without pain, let your PT know. They can work with you to develop a plan that will help achieve those goals. Having a goal is important because PTs will schedule visits based on needs and progress.

Studies have shown that patients had twice the pain relief in their knees and hips when they received assistance from a PT compared to those who performed the exercises on their own. Additionally, the studies discovered that it didn’t matter what level or severity of hip function, pain, or amount of motion a patient with arthritis in the hip had. The patients who received additional help from the PT did better than those who did the exercises on their own. *

At Access Physical Therapy & Wellness we are dedicated to helping our patients feel the best they can. If you need advice or assistance in getting back to feeling your best, contact one of our 35+ locations. To find out the closest location to you, visit To find the closest location, click here.

Deyle GD, Allison SC, Matekel RL, et al. Physical therapy treatment effectiveness for osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized comparison of supervised clinical exercise and manual therapy procedures versus a home exercise program. Phys Ther. 2005 Dec;85(12):1301-17.
Hoeksma HL, Dekker J, Ronday HK, et al. Comparison of Manual Therapy and Exercise Therapy in Osteoarthritis of the Hip: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Arthritis & Rheumatism 2004:51: 722-729.
Hoeksma HL, Dekker J, Ronday HK, et al. Manual therapy in osteoarthritis of the hip: outcome in subgroups of patients. Rheumatology 2005