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.
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.