How Is Arthritis Treated?
"Arthritis" means inflammation of the joints, and it might cause pain, swelling, and limited motion of one or many joints in the body. More than 100 different illnesses can cause arthritis.
Treatment begins after diagnosis by a doctor, who might prescribe medicine to reduce inflammation, pain, swelling, and loss of motion. As part of a comprehensive plan for arthritis treatment, your doctor might also prescribe occupational and physical therapy, which can provide additional help in your treatment.
How Can Occupational Therapists Help?
Occupational therapists can teach you how to reduce strain on your joints during daily activities. They can show you how to modify your home and workplace environments to reduce motions that might aggravate arthritis. Occupational therapists might also provide splints for your hands or wrists, and might recommend assistive devices to aid in driving, bathing, dressing, housekeeping, and other tasks.
How Can Physical Therapists Help?
Physical therapists can provide you exercises designed to preserve the mobility, strength, and use of your joints. Physical therapists can also teach you the proper body mechanics to move from one position to another and the proper mechanics during the performance of household activities. They can also teach you proper posture, such as while sitting, to protect the integrity of the joints. They can also educate you on the use of walking aids such as crutches, a walker, or a cane when needed.
What Are the Goals of Treatment?
Your physical therapist will tailor a program to your specific needs, whether your arthritic problems are widespread or confined to one joint or body area.
The goals of treatment are to:
- Prevent loss of use of the joints
- Restore abilities that may have been lost
- Help you adapt to new activity levels
- Maintain your fitness
- Maintain your ability to take part in the activities you choose with minimal help from others
Therapy should be started early, which may reduce painful symptoms of inflammation, help prevent deformity and permanent joint stiffness, and maintain strength in the surrounding muscles. When pain and swelling are better controlled, treatment plans may include exercises to increase range of motion, and to improve muscle strength and endurance.
"Physical therapists can provide you exercises designed to preserve the mobility, strength, and use of your joints."
What Are Some Benefits of Occupational and Physical Therapy Programs?
Physical therapy programs may provide:
- Exercises aimed at restoring normal joint mobility or flexibility
- Exercises aimed at restoring normal strength
- Education on whether you are safe to walk with or without an assistive device
- Postural education and activity modifications to relieve discomfort and improve performance