Arthritis is a common joint pain issue that can affect people of all ages. And while there is no cure for arthritis, with physical therapy you can learn to manage your arthritis pain naturally. For many people with chronic arthritis pain, prescription pain medications may seem like the only pain relief option. However, our experienced physical therapist recommends completing a variety of different targeted exercises to reduce inflammation, increase mobility and relieve your arthritis pain. Keep reading to learn more.
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is characterized by a swelling or tenderness in one or more of the joints in the body. The most common complaints of those with arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, and these symptoms can actually worsen with age. While there are many types of arthritis, the 2 most common types are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. With osteoarthritis, the cartilage that covers the ends of the bones at the joint starts to breakdown, resulting in recurring pain and stiffness. However, rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack various joints, beginning in the actual lining of the joints and breaking them down over time.
What are the Most Common Symptoms of Arthritis?
For most people with arthritis, joint pain is the most common complaint. But depending on the type of arthritis an individual has, they may experience a variety of different symptoms, including:
Impaired range of motion
What Causes Arthritis to Develop?
Because there are different types of arthritis, there is not one main cause of this type of joint issue. However, there are certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood that you may develop arthritis in your lifetime.
Certain types of arthritis can be genetic issues that run within family lines. If your parents or siblings have a specific type of arthritis, you are much more likely to develop it at some point in your life as well.
The risk of developing certain types of arthritis, like osteoarthritis and gout, increases as we age.
Did you know that women are much more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than men? But on the other hand, men are more likely to develop gout.
When you are carrying excess weight on your body, you are putting increased strain on your joints. People with obesity have a greater chance of developing arthritis, particularly in the knees, hips, and spine.
If you’ve injured a joint in the past, you have an increased risk of developing arthritis in the same area later in life.
Physical Therapy Exercises for Arthritis Pain
If you are experiencing arthritis pain, our physical therapist recommends completing a few different physical therapy exercises to help ease your pain and other symptoms like stiffness. Some of our favorite exercises include:
Stretching — This simple exercise helps to improve flexibility, increase your range of motion and reduce stiffness caused by arthritis.
Walking — Going for a walk is a great way to improve your joint health, boost your overall mood, and help with aerobic conditioning.
Water Exercises — This is a great low-impact way to get in your physical therapy exercises and relieve joint pain.
Hand Exercises — Rheumatoid arthritis can often result in limited use of the hands over time. By bending the wrists up and down, slowly curling your fingers, and spreading your fingers wide in a repetitive exercise cycle, you can greatly improve mobility and relieve chronic pain.