Nearly everyone who lives with arthritis finds that it impacts their life in some way. Arthritis limits mobility, and in certain cases, it may make you reluctant to move at all. In non-arthritic conditions, the solution to get over this hump would be to engage in a dose of physical therapy. But would using such techniques be beneficial to a chronic condition such as arthritis?
Physical Therapy in Brief
Physical therapy – specifically, a properly licensed physical therapist – provides treatments that can help alleviate problems that coincide with physical movement and functionality. Therapists help you achieve the following goals:
- Improve mobility
- Restoration of joint usage
- Restoration of the ability to accomplish daily tasks
These three elements are vital to helping you maintain mobility in the face of arthritis. Perhaps more importantly, physical therapists are licensed professionals with clinical experience to help lead arthritis patients toward mobility and better overall health.
The importance of gaining mobility properly cannot be overemphasized. If you go about things the wrong way, you could do more harm to your body than good. Even if what you do on your own may feel like progress, you may be running the risk of causing severe long-term damage.
The Teaching Element of Physical Therapy
Physical therapists aren’t just physicians or trainers. They’re teachers, poised to educate arthritis patients on how to to live as full of a life as possible. There are several tactics physical therapists use such as:
- Proper posture techniques – Maintaining correct posture and body mechanics is essential. Therapists can instruct you in the numerous ways you should be carrying out rudimentary tasks that the unafflicted often take for granted. Doing so will not only relieve pain but also improve functionality.
- Use of assistive devices – A walker or a cane may look simple to use, but it takes a bit of education and practice. A physical therapist will teach you how to use them in a way that protects your body’s physical integrity while protecting you from worsening your arthritis.
- Ergonomic assistance – A physical therapist can help you determine how to modify your living space to make it more conducive to moving around with arthritis. This could range from using ergonomic chairs to rearranging furniture so that you can move more efficiently.
- Recommendation of additional aid – A physical therapist will be able to suggest additional components to your overall therapeutic experience that may not readily occur to you. This could include the use of hot and cold compresses, shoe inserts, braces, and more.
Physical therapy is not a “one size fits all” proposition. The components of the therapy that you’ll receive are determined on a case by case basis, based on the location of the arthritis and factors such as weight and height. The components that make up the therapy include:
- Weight control – Keeping your weight in check will help minimize extra stress on arthritic joints. This is especially important if you have arthritis in your back, hips, knees, and feet.
- Body positioning – If you have arthritis in your back, legs, and feet, your therapist may concentrate on techniques to help keep you moving. The reason for this is because staying sedentary tends to lead to joint stiffness.
- Dealing with energy conservation – Arguably, this element may be more mental than physical to those that have an “on the go” mindset. However, these particular therapies will help you work in organic rest periods during the day.
What to Expect in a Physical Therapy Session
You are essentially in control of how the physical therapy sessions work. This is because your first course of action with the sessions is to set goals for yourself at the outset. These could start small, such as getting out of your car pain-free.
Eventually, sessions – which can be periodic as opposed to weekly – can work up to long-term goals as your body gets stronger. Because of this, you can expect your physical therapist to work within certain parameters to ensure your goal is reached.
Benefits of Physical Therapy
The benefits of physical therapy are obvious on a surface level – it can help you become more mobile – but there are other huge secondary benefits.
For one, physical therapy can make it easy for you to live more independently. It can promote better mental health, and give you a greater sense of education of your body and how it works.
Like any long term benefit to your health, physical therapy can challenging, but it will ultimately be very rewarding. Countryside Orthopaedics is here to help you get back to where you want to be. Contact us today to set up your consultation!