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How A Physical Therapist Can Help With Osteoarthritis

Posted by Vicki on 01/17/2017

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis and happens from wear & tear of the joints over time. With the progression of stresses on the joints from injury, inflammation, and excessive strain on the joints, the fluid in the joints becomes thick causing more friction in the joint. The friction begins a process of breaking down the cartilage of the bone and creates a painful experience. Excessive weight on the joints also compounds the situation. A cycle is started of pain, stiffness and weakness. Often it requires intervention to break that cycle and initiate the healing process. The cycle must be broken by movement of the joint that is often painful.

Your physical therapist can effectively treat Osteoarthritis. Depending on how severe the Osteoarthritis is, physical therapy may help you avoid surgery. Although the symptoms and progression of Osteoarthritis are different for each person, starting an individualized exercise program and addressing risk factors can help relieve your symptoms and slow the condition's advance. Here are a few ways your physical therapist can help:

  • Your therapist will do a thorough examination to determine your symptoms and what activities are difficult for you. He or she will design an exercise program to address those activities and improve your movement.

  • Your therapist may use manual (hands-on) therapy to improve movement of the affected joint.

  • Your physical therapist may offer suggestions for adjusting your work area to lessen the strain on your joints.

  • Your physical therapist can teach you an aerobic exercise program to improve your movement and overall health, and offer instructions for continuing the program at home.

  • If you are overweight, your physical therapist can teach you an exercise program for safe weight loss, and recommend simple lifestyle changes that will help keep the weight off.

In cases of severe Osteoarthritis that are not helped by physical therapy alone, surgery, such as a knee or hip replacement, may be necessary. Your physical therapist will refer you to an orthopedic surgeon to discuss the possibility of surgery.

Bise, C. PT, MS, DPT (2013, April 17). Physical Therapist's Guide to Osteoarthritis (http://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=dbe9c9ba-7c47-4b77-8d44-a499cd81074a#WhatIs)