In short, no, physiotherapy cannot cure arthritis as there is no cure for arthritis. However, physiotherapy can help to reduce the symptoms of arthritis and prevent it from getting worse.
What is arthritis?
- Arthritis is the term used to describe inflammation of the joints.
- There are over 200 known types of arthritis.
- The 2 most common types are Rheumatoid arthritis and Osteoarthritis
- Osteoarthritis à wear and tear within the joint(s), which gradually worsens over time
- Rheumatoid arthritis à the body’s immune system attacks the joints. The joints then become red and swollen if left untreated.
What causes arthritis?
There are many causes of arthritis, it may be:
- Age related wear & tear
- Or it may start without any obvious cause.
What are the symptoms of arthritis?
The symptoms of arthritis will vary depending on what type of arthritis you have, but may include:
- joint pain
- inflammation (redness and swelling) in and around the joints
- stiffness and reduced movement of the joints
- weakness and muscle wasting
How can physiotherapy help arthritis?
The main aims of physiotherapy are to keep you moving, by reducing joint stiffness, improving joint range of movement and keeping your muscles strong. Exercise is beneficial as the hormones (endorphins) released when we exercise make us feel good. Exercising is also great for weight management, by keeping our weight down we reduce the stress on our joints.
- Physiotherapy treatments can be used to help keep joints mobile and reduce your symptoms, this may include massage, mobilisations, acupuncture and taping.
- Heat or ice may be used for pain relief.
- You physiotherapist may assess your gait (walking)
- They will develop a personalised exercise programme including stretches and strengthening exercises for the affected joints.
- Electrotherapy is beneficial – including the use of TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) for pain relief or the use of ‘Compex’ for muscle stimulation.
- Splints or walking aids may also be useful for day-to-day activities and walking.
If you are having a joint replacement surgery, you should also see a physiotherapist before; this will ensure better outcomes post-operatively
Author: Rachel Catherwood