What Really Is Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy is one of the most effective treatments for patients with arthritis. Physiotherapists are part of a team of healthcare professionals who will help such patients to resume an independent and active life at home and work. These professionals are experts at showing you how to protect your joints and assessing movement. Your physiotherapist will:
. Help you feel confident about managing your debilitating condition
. Provide necessary advice and reassurance
. Set goals to help keep you active
. Address all uncertainties and concerns you may have
In fact, highly specialised physiotherapists are trained to diagnose and treat muscle and joint issues. Your GP will usually refer you to a specialist physiotherapist instead of an orthopaedic surgeon or rheumatologist. Your physiotherapist will start the treatments by asking you specific questions and examining the painful joint/joints. The assessment is important to customise the treatment for your needs. Treatments may include:
. Effective advice on gradually increasing your activity level and preventing exercise-related injuries in the process
. A programme of specific and effective exercises
. Manipulation, massage, taping, and acupuncture
. Ice packs, heat packs, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machines, and other pain relief treatments
. Walking aids or splints to help you move about easily
Managing Your Pain
Pain is a major symptom of arthritis. You need to talk to the physiotherapist about self-help, treatments, and pain management programmes to help increase your mobility over time.
How Can Physiotherapy Help?
A physiotherapist will help you understand what happens to the joints and muscles when you have arthritis. Understanding the condition is important when it comes to managing the pain associated with arthritis. Arthritis will cause pain in one or more joints of the body. Medications can help, but the physiotherapist will inform you about other effective methods of pain relief that work alongside your arthritis medications. For example, ice packs can be used to soothe swollen joints. Heat packs are effective in relaxing tense and tired muscles. Splinting of painful and swollen joints is also helpful during a flare-up of rheumatoid arthritis. The therapist will provide temporary splints for you. On the other hand, TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) will work to block pain messages to the brain and alter the perception of pain. It is a small electronic device that helps send pulses to the nerve endings via the pads that are placed on the skin. It will cause a tingling sensation which you may find soothing.
Overdoing or doing nothing will increase your pain. The therapist will recommend increasing the activity levels at a rate that you can cope with. You should also find the right balance between activity and rest. When you plan your activities so that you don’t overdo them, you can easily enjoy the thing you love.
Regular Graded Exercises
Graded exercises will start slowly but increase in small steps. It helps strengthen the muscles and joints and increase fitness levels. When you have better stamina and fitness, it helps increase your activity level without the pain. When you exercise regularly, it will help stimulate the production of pain-relieving hormones such as endorphins in the body.
Your therapist will offer other effective treatments including:
. Some therapists are trained to give acupuncture to stimulate the brain to release endorphins
. Massage to help relax and make the joints more comfortable and flexible
. Manual manipulation helps improve a range of movements in the joints – your therapist will advise the best manipulations
. Electrotherapy with low level laser therapy and ultrasound therapy to stimulate the healing process and reduce pain over time
The most important thing is to choose a reliable physiotherapist in the area. There are hundreds of such professionals but all of them are not top-notch. Your research is important when choosing the best physiotherapist to treat your condition.