For individuals living with arthritis, pain is more or less a constant part of their waking days. This is especially true for older ones, whose joints and muscles are more prone to aches and pains. While bouts of muscle pain and joint aches can be managed with the help of pain relievers, these can also be addressed with physiotherapy.
So in this article, we will discuss what physiotherapy is and how it can help address arthritis problems, particularly among the aged population.
What is physiotherapy?
By definition, physiotherapy refers to treatment involving physical methods rather than surgical procedures to address health issues. These methods may include massage sessions, exercise, and heat treatment. Physiotherapists work with a wide range of patients, including those who suffer from arthritis, with the goal of improving overall health and wellness.
Physiotherapists who deal with arthritis patients are especially concerned about their patients’ mobility, as arthritis can make simple movements such as walking or taking the stairs too much of a challenge.
To help improve their patients’ condition, these physiotherapists carefully structure a personalized fitness plan. But they do more than that. In addition to coming up with a customized exercise plan, physiotherapists also do the following:
Help relieve pain and improve mobility and body functions by teaching proper posture
Guide patients with the proper use of assistive devices such as canes and walkers
Assist patients in determining the best approach and treatment for their condition (e.g., heat treatment, wearing of braces and splints, using shoe inserts, etc.)
Recommend changes in the patient’s environment to help relieve their pain and improve their overall function (e.g. use of cushions, ergonomic chairs, mats, etc.)
Therapy sessions are typically scheduled periodically, and in most cases, patients don’t need to see their physiotherapists on a weekly basis. Generally speaking, physiotherapists schedule physical therapy (PT) sessions every few months, with the goal of tracking your progress or recommending new or modified approaches to your current treatment.
How can physiotherapy help seniors with arthritis?
If you are considering physiotherapy as a treatment for your condition or for a loved one suffering from arthritis, here are some ways that this form of treatment could help.
Successfully manage your pain
The pain that comes with arthritis can range from moderate to severe, with seniors usually suffering the worse. Although your healthcare expert can recommend medications to help alleviate the pain, coupling these with physical therapy can help ease the pain and discomfort better.
Your physiotherapist can recommend other methods of pain management such as ice packs or splints. Or, your physiotherapist may recommend the use of a TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) device to help soothe your pain.
Since certain activities and body postures may cause your joints and muscles to ache more, your physiotherapist can help you pace yourself so you don’t strain your body. Conversely, your therapist could suggest that you do graded exercise so you can increase your mobility and strengthen your joints and muscles.
Maintain your fitness
As we age, we become less and less active, which then leads to further problems related to mobility. However, as mentioned above, we may unknowingly strain ourselves with our daily activities. In this case, physiotherapy can help you maintain an active lifestyle while respecting your body’s limits.
Some patients are hesitant to try physical therapy, thinking that engaging in exercise would only worsen the pain in their muscles and joints. But did you know that the lack of exercise can actually worsen your pain and reduce your mobility?
With each PT session, you’ll not only get to learn how you can improve your fitness, but you’ll also learn what you can do to maintain a healthy weight, thereby boosting your self-confidence.
And if you’re worried about the exercise routines you’ll have to go through, keep in mind that physiotherapists are trained in structuring exercise plans based on their patients’ present conditions. You can be sure that any exercise routine you’ll be asked to do is carefully graded with your wellbeing in mind to ensure the best possible results.
Restore the use of your affected joints
Joints and muscle pain can either be focused in just one area of your body, or it can be widespread. Depending on how severe your arthritis is, your physiotherapist will recommend a treatment plan that will help you gradually regain the function of your swollen joints.
As such, it is important that you have clear goals in mind before seeing a physiotherapist. For example, you might want to work on getting in and out of the car without having to feel any pain. Or you might want to ease the pain that comes with walking. Having these things in mind will help your therapist to come up with a concrete exercise plan that will help you realize your physical goals.
Looking for a physiotherapist?
If you’re looking for a professional therapist to help you deal with your condition, you can simply ask your family doctor to refer you to one. Or you can self-refer yourself to a private physiotherapist, so long as you make full disclosure of your medical history on your first appointment.
My Home Rehab is a team of physiotherapists and kinesiologists dedicated to caring for your wellbeing using the latest and most effective treatments for mobility-related conditions. If you have additional concerns or questions regarding physiotherapy, or if you wish to schedule an appointment with us, please feel free to reach out to us at 604-338-4912. You may also send us a message by clicking this link.