Arthritis and Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy treatment has a large part to play in the overall management of arthritis. The physiotherapist, as a member of your management team, is trained to understand and treat the physical aspects of the human body.

Arthritis

Physiotherapy for people with arthritis is aimed at:

  • Reduction of pain and swelling
  • Promote range of joint movement
  • Improve mobility
  • Strengthen muscle power
  • Assist in rehabilitation after surgery such as hip replacement
  • Educate on how you can improve your quality of life through exercise
  • Assisting a person to be independent and functioning well as is possible

Treatments may include:

 

Manual therapy Mobilisation and manipulation techniques are passive movements applied to a joint or soft tissue by the physio in a specific manner to help restore full movement to a joint that is painful and restricted. Manual therapy is often useful in the chronic forms of arthritis and is often successful when other methods such as heat and exercises have given little or no relief.

Electrical treatments (electrotherapy) These treatments produce electrical stimulation of your body tissues. They may be extremely useful in the treatment of both acute and chronic arthritis, where pain, swelling and muscle spasms are present.

Exercise A balanced programme of rest and exercise, and careful attention to joint posture is an important part of pain management, joint protection and maintenance of your joint function. Controlled exercise helps lessen pain and stiffness and improves the strength of muscles and ligaments, so helping to stabilise joints. This is essential in all aspects of self-care and particularly important before and after joint surgery.

Thermal (heat treatments) The application can be directed towards superficial or deeper parts of the body. The most common types of treatment used are infra-red radiation, hot packs for superficial treatments, and microwave diathermy and shortwave diathermy for deep heating treatment.

Self-Management Individuals who participate in self-management programs notice decrease in joint pain and frequency of arthritis-related doctors’ visits, increases in physical activity and overall improvement in quality of life.

Hydrotherapy Hydrotherapy or pool therapy is a very useful means of exercising arthritic joints using the buoyancy of water to assist or resist movement. The warmth of the water increases the circulation and helps reduce muscle spasms, producing more effective movement.

Stretch of the Month

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Try a relaxation technique that involves tensing and relaxing the muscles of each part of the body, one part at a time, start with sitting or reclining in a quiet, comfortable setting with one’s shoes off:

 

  1. Make a fist with your right hand for 5–8 seconds, and then relax it.
  2. Bend your right arm to flex your biceps, and then relax it.
  3. Make a fist with your left hand, and then relax it.
  4. Bend your left arm to flex your biceps, and then relax it.
  5. Raise your eyebrows, and then relax your face.
  6. Squeeze your eyes shut, then relax.
  7. Clench your teeth and grimace, then relax.
  8. Afterward, close your eyes and remain relaxed, breathing deeply.

 

Towards Wellness

When it comes to specific foods you should eat, an anti-inflammatory diet involves avoiding foods that make inflammation worse and eating plenty of foods that reduce inflammation. These foods all help to reduce some aspect of inflammation include:

Omega-3 fatty acids Salmon, herring, mackerel (not king), sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout, oysters, eggs, flaxseed (ground & oil) and walnuts.

Extra-virgin olive oil Use olive oil when cooking.

Antioxidants May help prevent arthritis, slow its progression & relieve pain.

Vitamin C Guava, sweet peppers, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, lemons, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, kidney beans, cauliflower, red cabbage, mangos.

Selenium Brazil nuts, tuna, crab, oysters, pasta (whole-wheat), lean beef, cod, whole grains, turkey & wheat germ.

Carotenes Sweet potato, carrots, kale, butternut squash, turnip greens, pumpkin, mustard greens, red pepper, apricots and spinach.