Does Physical Therapy Help Arthritis Pain?
Updated: Apr 25
If you're experiencing joint pain in the knees, ankles, hips, back, or elbows, there's a high chance you have arthritis. Arthritis is one of the leading causes of joint pain in the world.
One of the common misconceptions about arthritis is that it's just an older person's problem. However, it can affect anyone - even very young people or children.
Physical therapy for arthritis is one of the few ways to approach treatment and pain management. It's often the most sustainable too.
What is arthritis?
According to Mayoclinic.org, arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of the joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to break down.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease when the immune system attacks the joints, beginning with the joints' lining.
Types of Physical Therapies Used to Treat Arthritis
There are a few widely accepted options for arthritis therapy.
Physical therapy strengthens damaged and weakened joints. Various exercises can help reduce joint pain and stiffness and improve range of motion.
Occupational therapy teaches patients to protect the joints from strain and involves physical exercises and lifestyle changes.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy uses small pulses of electricity to target arthritis pain areas.
Massage helps manage arthritis pain by massaging and rubbing muscles and joints to boost blood circulation to the painful areas.
Diathermy uses ultrasound, electrical currents or radio or microwaves to heat the tissue inside painful joints.
Want to know more about the different types of physical therapies? Read our article here.
Physical therapy for knee arthritis
One of the most common questions from patients is can physical therapy help arthritic knees?
Knee pain is prevalent, and with arthritis, the muscles surrounding the knee can become weak, and the knee joints can become stiff. It creates difficulty performing even such simple tasks as getting out of bed.
It is also challenging to manage the pain as overusing the knees can worsen joint health, but too little movement weakens the knees.
Physical therapy for the knee helps find the necessary balance keeping the knee joints moving just enough to stay healthy and strong.
It helps reduce the swelling, stiffness, pain and makes daily life much more comfortable as it brings back the ability to bend the knee, sit or squat without strain and walk longer distances.
In addition to that, physical therapy of the knee can delay or completely prevent surgery.
Physical therapy for hip arthritis
Hip arthritis is the inflammation and wearing away of the hip joint cartilage. The joint then becomes swollen, and over time can cause pain, stiffness, muscle weakness, and limited function.
Physical therapy for hip arthritis can help manage the condition and help reduce pain, improve walking ability, standing balance and strength, and reduce pain.
Physical therapy for neck arthritis
Arthritis can affect the neck too. However, since most of the time, there are no symptoms for quite a while, the condition is usually diagnosed later.
When the symptoms occur, it's usually stiffness or pain in the neck that can be worsened by looking up or down for a long time, or holding the neck in the same position for a long time, e.g. while driving.
Other neck arthritis symptoms are loss of balance, muscle spasms, headaches, popping sensations, weakness in the hands or legs.
Physical therapy for neck arthritis can help manage the condition by strengthening week and strained muscles. It also helps improve range of motion, reduces pain and stiffness.
Physical therapy for lower back arthritis
Does physical therapy help arthritis in the back is a common question, and the answer is - it does.
Aging, different health conditions, or injuries can cause arthritis in the spine, and the discs and joints start to break down.
Physical therapy can help manage the pain with properly selected exercises, teaching correct body posture for daily tasks, and advising how to improve the surroundings to be more comfortable (e.g. recommending ergonomic chairs, etc.).
Physical therapy for wrist arthritis
A weak grip, pain, and loss of motion range in the wrists can point to the wrist's arthritis.
Physical therapy for wrist arthritis helps correct postural deficits and manage pain. The therapists will use different techniques, including hand exercises, heat therapy, splints, etc.
Can a physiotherapist diagnose arthritis?
To accurately diagnose arthritis, numerous exams and tests are needed.
The best way to approach is by contacting your physician for a referral to a specialist, often a rheumatologist.
A physical therapist can also advise who to contact and later creates a treatment program.
Does Medicare cover physical therapy for arthritis?
As living.medicareful.com explains, Medicare covers many versions of physical therapy for arthritis.
Medicare Part B helps cover outpatient physical therapy and occupational therapy and can help cover durable medical equipment (DME).
Original Medicare may cover chronic care management services, which also help with arthritis treatment. In this case, the requirements are to have two or more serious chronic conditions that may last one year or more.
Medicare may help cover some form of joint replacement surgery.
Medicare Part C plans cover the same services as Original Medicare but also usually offer additional coverage.
Medicare Advantage plan also usually offer additional coverage.
Whichever Medicare plan you may have you should check with your specific provider as they may differ for each person.
How effective is physical therapy for arthritis?
Before starting treatment, many people ask how effective is physical therapy for arthritis? Will it help?
Physical therapy has multiple benefits and adequately created, and correctly executed program can help:
Improve the ability to bend and straighten a joint.
Strengthen the muscles supporting joints
Reduce swelling, stiffness, pain
Improve range of motion
Improve the performance of daily tasks
Arthritis rehabilitation therapy services
For a wide range of arthritis rehabilitation therapy services get in touch with us.
Our team of board-certified physicians and licensed physical therapists creates a personalized, comprehensive plan of care, tailored to your specific needs and with total recovery in mind.
Miracle Rehab team will develop a thorough understanding of your condition, analyze your physical data and establish the best rehabilitation program for you.
Physical therapy is one of the most common and effective treatments for arthritis pain.
Physical therapists work daily with people experiencing various joint pain and use different techniques to manage mobility, discomfort, and pain.
Physical therapy for arthritis pain is both highly effective as can improve muscle strength and support joints, improve posture, strengthen the body overall, and target pain through specialized treatments.
Physical therapy for arthritis is a proven and effective way to manage the condition.
Whether it's arthritis of the knee, hip, back, or wrist, a professional physical therapist can improve the condition, reduce pain and stiffness, increase range of motion and help patients live their lives without constant discomfort.
Contact Miracle Rehab Clinic today and find a therapist to help you increase your quality of life.