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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.

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It’s only been just a little over a year since news about COVID-19 first hit the press. For many of us, however, everything in the pre-COVID era feels more like a lifetime ago. So many things have changed without warning, taking most, if not all of us, by surprise.

But have you ever wondered how it would be like to transition to a post-COVID era after more than a year of having to live under quarantine?

Just Imagine having to get used to the new reality of not wearing face masks and face shields ever again. Or switching back to interacting with family and friends in person rather than online. Imagine finally having to come to terms with the reality of how many people we’ve lost to the virus after more than a year of battling with the pandemic.

There’s just going to be so many changes to get used to. But if there’s one demographic in our population who’s going to have a harder time adjusting compared to most of us, it’s going to be the elderly population.

Since they’ve had little to no chance of going outside during the pandemic, it can be a shock having to go outside again for the first time in a long time. And since COVID-19 has restricted much of our physical activities, it has also had an effect on the health of the elderly, making it even more difficult for them to return to their pre-pandemic routine.

If someone you love belongs to this demographic, what can you do to make the transition easier? Below are 3 tips that you may find helpful.

Adjusting to yet another “new normal”

Tip # 1: Don’t try to speed up the transition

Adapting to changes requires time. Lots of it. And more so when it comes to the elderly population. People generally have a hard time coping with sudden changes, and our reaction to the first few lockdowns last year is proof to this fact. But with so many changes to adapt to during the post-COVID world, elderly individuals may find the transition extra challenging.

Keep in mind that for more than a year, we’ve had very limited interaction with those close to us. And for most of the elderly, the only connection they’ve had with their family and friends has been over the Internet. So when the community finally opens up and starts to allow social gatherings, help the elderly to gradually re-connect with their social network.

If you notice that an elderly member in your family is having a hard time doing a ‘reset’, remember not to rush the process. Things will fall into place at their own pace, so don’t try to hurry him or her into fully adapting to their changed circumstances. As government restrictions are gradually lifted in your area, try to also gradually incorporate the normal aspects of life back into the life of the elderly person.

For example, you can slowly reintroduce in-person medical appointments and family gatherings. You can then reintroduce get-togethers with close friends, all while following whatever minimum safety measures may be set by the government for the vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Remember to go through this transition gradually. This will help the elderly feel safer, especially if he or she still worries about catching the virus.

Tip # 2: Let the elderly know that it’s okay to feel anxious and stressed

Shifting back to pre-COVID routines can bring a new wave of stress and anxiety for the older segment of our population. This is normal, no matter what our age or gender may be.

If you are assisting someone in the elderly population, keep in mind that stress at their age can be destructive to their health, so make sure to help them acknowledge the tension that they feel rather than encourage them to just stay strong and hide their pain and stress from the rest.

One of the best ways to minimize the stress that naturally comes with change is by telling a trusted friend about how you feel. The same holds true for the elderly. Try to encourage them to talk to you about how they’re coping with the changes. Show them empathy. Put yourself in their shoes and try to imagine how life must have been like for them all these months where they’ve had limited to no physical contact with their family and friends.

Think of how hard it must have been for them to hear about the loss of good friends or family members and not even having the chance to grieve with the other bereaved members in person. Be kind and give them the space they need to adapt to the new set of changes.

Remember, mental health is crucial to a person’s overall wellbeing, and all the more so to those who are already living their golden years.

Tip # 3: Help the elderly stay physically active

Research shows that regular physical activity is another effective way to keep the body healthy and help combat stress. When we engage in physical activity, our bodies release endorphins, also known as the happy hormone, and this helps boost our overall mood. So helping the elderly stay physically active while staying can help lift their spirits despite feelings of isolation.

Simple activities such as doing a small jog or walking around the house can do much to help the elderly stay fit as well. This is also a great way to prepare them for post-COVID life when they’ll have the freedom to move around and engage in more physical activity.

Dealing with the pandemic is stressful, but it doesn’t have to feel impossible, especially for the most vulnerable individuals in the population. So let’s do what we can to help them adapt to all the changes we have yet to deal with. The better prepared they are for the days and months ahead, the easier they’ll be able to make the transition to a life without COVID-19.

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Do you love to exercise?

If the thought of working out and getting yourself pumped up for your daily push-ups and squats gets you all excited, good for you!

But if the image of you sweating out doesn't sound so appealing, and you'd rather just sit on the couch and watch your fave Netflix show than run some laps or lift weights, then this article is for you.

Don't worry, we're not going to drag you to the gym today! Some other day, perhaps?

What we're going to do now though, is talk to you about all the good reasons why you need to exercise.

So in this article, we're shortlisting the 5 ways physical exercising can boost your immune system. (And hopefully, give you all the reason you need to get your workout routine started, even though we're in isolation and a lot of us don't have access to the gym!)

Are you ready? Let's dive in!

Regular exercise can help you boost your immunity. Here's how:

  • It improves your blood circulation When you work out, your body increases the volume of blood it pumps out. This, in turn, increases the level of oxygen in your body and makes all your organs work more efficiently. It also helps you lower your risks of suffering from heart diseases and can help you lower your blood pressure as well. Not sure what type of workouts can help you keep your heart healthy? Try cardio workouts such as jump rope, sit-ups, jogging, and jumping jacks!

  • It can help you regulate your blood sugar levels Did you know that exercise is actually one of the best ways for you to keep your blood sugar levels within the normal range? Yes, you read that right! You see, each time you exercise, your body consumes the sugar you have in your bloodstream to give you the energy you need to keep going. So, the more you exercise, the lower your blood sugar levels will be, and the lower your risk of getting diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. And, if you already have diabetes, engaging in regular exercise can help you keep your condition under control.

  • It can help keep your White Blood Cell (WBC) count within normal range When it comes to strengthening your antibodies, it's interesting to note that those who follow a regular schedule of exercise are shown to have healthier white blood cell (WBC) levels than those who do not. This is important information, as increased levels of WBCs in the body often mean that a person is at high risk for coronary diseases and even death. We see proof of this benefit in a study conducted among overweight and post-menopausal women who were asked to engage in aerobic exercise for a specific period of time. After 6 months, the researchers found that these women had a relatively lower WBC count compared to the control group. This indicates stronger immunity compared to the other women in the study who did not engage in exercise.

  • It reduces inflammation Want to keep diseases at bay? Exercise is the key to making sure that happens! In fact, did you know that even 20 minutes of exercise can already do so much to help protect your body from diseases? It's an interesting fact that researchers have recently discovered during one of the studies conducted. It's also a fact that spells good news for those who suffer from chronic diseases such as fibromyalgia and arthritis. And for those who suffer from obesity, it also means that exercise holds the key for your body to get back in optimum condition.

  • It reduces the level of stress hormones in your body We all know this: Stress is still the number one killer of all time. People who are stressed are unable to function as efficiently as they should, and their body is not optimized to fight back against diseases. So if you want to lower your stress hormone levels, you need to do one thing: EXERCISE. You don't have to get stressed out about exercise really. After all, it's supposed to relieve you of your stress, not the other way around. And if you're totally new to the whole workout thing, don't push yourself too hard! You'll just have to get used to working out, that's all. So here's a tip if you're an exercise newbie: Don't be afraid to start with beginner workout routines, and then work your way from there. Just respect your body's limits, and listen to it. You will know when the time is right for you to increase the frequency and intensity of your exercises.

Remember: The more you exercise, the safer you are from infectious diseases

With the pandemic still raging, especially in some parts of the world where cases have gone up, it has become more crucial than ever that you do what you can to boost your immunity. And what better way to boost your body's natural defenses than by engaging in regular physical activity?

You might think that exercise is only for those who want to lose a few inches off their waist, but it actually does a whole lot more than that!

In fact, a 2021 research published in Sports Magazine found that the risk of contracting community-acquired diseases is 31% lower among individuals who engage in a high level of physical exercise. The same research further shows a 37% risk reduction in deaths associated with infectious diseases.

So the next time you think about doing exercise, keep in mind that you're doing it not just for the sake of keeping yourself in good shape, but also to keep yourself physically healthy.

Don't overdo it though! Too much of anything is never a good thing, so don't push your body too hard. Moderate exercise can do much to boost your immunity now, just make sure to keep yourself in check so you don't go extreme.

True, exercise can be exhausting, but it's something you'll definitely thank yourself for in the future! So go ahead and see to it that you add exercise to your daily list of To-Dos!

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