Do you have swollen and painful joints in your hands, feet, knees, or hips or elsewhere in your body?
Have you been told it’s arthritis?
When you have joint pain and inflammation, we refer to it as arthritis.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease with painful symptoms that get worse over time.
In some people, arthritis is caused by an autoimmune response system in the body that leads to inflammation flare-ups and chronic pain.
But there are two main kinds of arthritis: rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA).
Rheumatoid arthritis is systemic and leads to symptoms manifesting all over the body, but mainly in the smaller joints in the hands and feet.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is the autoimmune system attacking healthy joints and connective tissue.
Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is due to the wear and tear that our cartilage undergoes over time, leading to friction between the bones, inflammation, and pain.
However, arthritis isn't the only cause of sore and swollen joints. It could be something different entirely.
That's why you need a physical therapist to perform a physical evaluation to check for the tell-tale signs of arthritis. It could be something that we can fix quickly.
But even if it is arthritis, we can treat it.
So, if you have pain in your joints now, we recommend booking a complimentary consultation with us as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis.
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How To Get Effective Pain Relief For Arthritis
While your doctor may offer you a prescription for pain pills to relieve arthritis inflammation and pain, we believe that physical therapy and lifestyle changes are a much more effective way to treat arthritis and prevent further degeneration.
The following may also offer some relief from the pain of all forms of arthritis:
Being overweight has a significant impact when you have arthritis.
The additional weight puts increased pressure on your feet, hips, and knee joints.
That's why we strongly recommend that obese and overweight patients look to reduce their weight to decrease the symptoms and pain caused by arthritis.
If you are overweight, it may be helpful to work with a dietician or nutritionist to help guide you. Some of the additional benefits of weight loss are:
If you have arthritis, you will also get many benefits from getting regular exercise.
Regular exercise (even if it's just walking or riding a bike) helps to stabilize your weight and strengthens the key muscles and joints that support and increase your flexibility and mobility.
If you haven't exercised in a while, however, you should check with a physician first before starting any new exercise program.
For extra motivation to exercise and get relief from arthritis pain, you could look into getting a personal trainer or find a "gym buddy."
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese form of treatment practiced for many millennia.
It involves the insertion of delicate needles at the body's critical points (meridians). They are said to restore balance and reroute energies. It is beneficial in reducing pain and swelling of the joints with no significant risks.
However, only consult a professionally certified acupuncturist to carry out the process.
As physical therapists, we sometimes use a form of acupuncture called “Dry Needling" to stimulate and relax tight muscles (or trigger points) that may restrict your mobility and contribute to chronic pain.
Try Hot And Cold Treatments
Hot and cold therapy effectively manage pain and inflammation.
For hot treatment, a warm shower or soaking in a bathtub with hot water will help to reduce arthritis pain.
Other options are using a heating pad or an electric blanket to soothe painful joints. Cold therapy can also help in managing inflammation and pain in the joints. Wrap an ice pack in a towel and apply it to the joints to get relief.
You should not apply ice directly to the affected area. Various topical ointments like Tiger Balm and others also offer hot and cold relief and can be bought over the counter.
Start Using Turmeric In Food
A popular Indian spice, turmeric has a chemical known as curcumin which is renowned for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Studies indicate it can be beneficial in the relief of arthritic inflammation and pain management.
In lab studies on rats, those introduced to turmeric showed less inflammation in their joints. While more work needs to be done by scientists, adding a bit of turmeric to your dishes is perfectly safe (and delicious), especially in curries.
Eat A Well-Balanced Diet
Continuing with the food theme, a diet rich in green vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole foods strengthens the body's immunity.
Research shows that the dietary choices you make can have an impact on arthritis. Eating lots of fresh fruit and vegetables helps in the intake of antioxidants which is beneficial in reducing inflammation as it removes free radicals from your system.
Processed foods, sugar, red meat, and saturated fats are known to increase inflammation, which is one of the leading causes of arthritis, so you could consider reducing your intake of these foods.
Eating healthily also benefits the body by keeping obesity, blood pressure, heart disease, and other medical issues in check.
While there are mineral and vitamin supplements available to buy, both online and offline. Vitamins and minerals from natural food are much more beneficial for your overall well-being.
Most of us are aware of the benefits of massage therapy for our overall well-being. It can also assist in pain management and relieve discomfort caused by arthritis.
However, one of the most significant benefits of massage therapy is that it helps lower cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a leading cause of anxiety and stress and is responsible for inflammation.
You should consult with a trained professional physical therapist that specializes in massage therapy for arthritis.
Mindfulness and meditation practices can provide some relief from arthritis pain. Relaxation techniques like these decrease stress, which can help to relieve arthritic pain.
When your stress levels are lower, it helps reduce inflammation and pain. Yoga and tai chi are two good examples that are a combination of relaxation, meditation, and breathing and also involve low-impact movements.
In addition, studies show that people who practice meditation benefit in relief from rheumatoid arthritis.
These practices can also relieve depression, anxiety, and stress which are by-products of chronic arthritis.
While more research is needed. Certain herbal supplements show promise in treating the symptoms of arthritis and in relieving pain and inflammation of the joints.
Some people consider the following herbs and supplements to be helpful in the treatment of arthritis*:
*Since the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) is not involved in carrying out studies of these supplements for purity and quality. Therefore, we recommend you only buy from a reputable and well-established source online or offline. However, before starting any of these supplements, it is always also advised to consult your physician to check for any interactions with other medications.
Why Physical Therapy Is The Best Treatment For Arthritis
Physical therapy is one of the best, if not the best, treatments for arthritis - specifically for reducing pain and inflammation and increasing mobility.
It’s proven to be way more effective than steroid injections in the long term, without the dangerous side effects.
It can also prevent further disease progression and more damage to your joints.
When you work with us, we use a range of therapeutic exercises and hands-on therapy to gently mobilize your painful joints and increase movement and flexibility. Which ultimately lowers inflammation and reduces pain.
We also examine your body to look for issues with muscle imbalance, poor postural alignment, and any other problems contributing to your pain levels.
But when we correct these and educate you on how to move better, everything in your life becomes easier and less painful.
How To Book A Free Consultation With A Physical Therapist
Would you like some advice on whether you have arthritis and what you can do to fix it?
How you can change your lifestyle and daily routine to reduce the symptoms of arthritis.
We offer all new patients a free 30-minute Discovery Visit at the clinic consultation to talk to one of our expert physical therapists about the issues you’re having.
You can book yours here.