Arthritis and Physiotherapy: How it Can Help
Arthritis is a term used to describe a range of conditions which affects the joints, bone, muscle and soft tissue of the body. These conditions can affect people of all ages. In Australia, arthritis is the leading cause of chronic pain and the second most common cause of disability and early retirement because of ill health.
Symptoms of pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints can make it difficult for people with arthritis to complete everyday tasks. This type of chronic pain can have a devastating impact on the quality of life of arthritis sufferers.
What is arthritis?
Arthritis affects 3.5 million Australians which is around 15 per cent of the population. It is a generalised name for a group of conditions which cause damage to the joints of the body, causing pain and swelling. Arthritis can affect many parts of the joint and nearly every joint in the body. Exactly why it develops is not completely understood, but there are some risks factors that contribute to its development. These include obesity, poor nutrition, and leading a sedentary lifestyle.
There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related conditions. The most common is osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Other types of arthritis include gout, ankylosing spondylitis, juvenile arthritis, lupus and scleroderma. In Australia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout are the most common forms of arthritis.
Arthritis affects each person differently. Symptoms vary between types and severity, but the most common symptoms include:
- joint pain and stiffness
- catching, clunking or grinding in the joint
- fatigue or feeling generally unwell.
Physiotherapy and arthritis
Arthritis can affect your ability to complete everyday tasks and live the life you want to lead. There is no cure for arthritis, so it’s important to manage symptoms and keep joints as mobile as possible. Physiotherapy can play an important role in managing arthritis symptoms and severity in a range of different ways. Common treatment solutions include:
No matter the severity of arthritis, physical activity and exercise are one of the best forms of treatment. Your physiotherapist can help prescribe strengthening exercises specific to your needs to keep joints mobile and increase strength. This could include hydrotherapy, flexibility exercise, and aerobic exercise.
Your physiotherapist can offer remedial massage targeted at areas which are causing pain or discomfort. Massage may help to decrease stress hormones, ease muscle tension, improve circulation and reduce swelling. Research has shown that massage may offer short-term pain relief for arthritis-related pain. Plus, it feels good too!
Dry needling is a treatment which may provide relief from muscular pain. It’s mainly used for sports injuries and muscle pain but can help to provide some relief for people living with arthritis too. Practitioners place the needles in trigger points in your muscle or tissue to release tension. Easing these trigger points may also improve flexibility and increase range of motion, offering short-term relief.
Aids and equipment
Physiotherapists can offer advice on aids and equipment which can help you manage arthritic pain at home. This can include providing splints to help reduce joint strain and manage pain and fatigue. Other aids such as specialised implements can help make everyday activities easier.
How can The Brisbane Spine Clinic help
If you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis and need some support in managing your symptoms, please book an appointment today to see how we can help. We’re looking forward to meeting you.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.