Do you ever wake up feeling as if your joints are stiff or tight? Do they ache as you get moving in the morning, becoming less painful as the day goes on? If so, this may be a sign of early-onset arthritis. This is a common condition that many people experience but choose to live with their painful joints for far too long before seeking help.
Arthritis can be managed with the help of our Kirkland, WA physical therapists. We will assess what exercises will be beneficial in providing pain relief for your arthritis during everyday activities and help you prevent injuring yourself in the future. Your physical therapist will also help you increase your range of motion in your arthritic joints. If you are suffering from arthritis, or you think you may be experiencing arthritic symptoms, contact Washington Physical Therapy today to schedule an appointment.
How do I know if I have arthritis?
According to the Arthritis Foundation, arthritis affects over 50 million people and it is currently the leading cause of disability across the nation. Arthritis causes pain, inflammation, and it can affect one or multiple joints at once.
The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is caused when the cartilage of the joint wears down, either due to age or overuse. This causes pain in the joint, as the cartilage is no longer acting as the thick cushion that it once was. Without a cushion, the bones grind together, which in turn causes an inflammatory response in the joint.
Rheumatoid arthritis, also referred to as “inflammatory arthritis,” is also fairly common. It is an autoimmune disease that affects multiple joints, and is typically more prevalent in females than males.
Those suffering from arthritis typically report soreness around joints, which is worse after prolonged sitting, standing, or inactivity. Pain can be substantially worse with movement, such as bending of the knees. You may notice popping or clicking sounds in the affected joint(s) with movement, and the joint may be sensitive or painful to the touch. Arthritis can also cause pain when you exercise or work, and the pain may go away after you stop doing that activity.
How does arthritis develop?
As the most commonly experienced form of arthritis, osteoarthritis is typically easy to diagnose. It can be caused by a sudden injury to the joint, or it can develop even if a previous injury has fully healed. For example, let’s say you were a football player in college who experienced a harsh blow to the knee. You seek treatment, recover, and return to the game. Although the injury healed, damage occurred to the cartilage or surrounding muscles, decreasing support to the joint, or changing the motion of the joint slightly. Therefore, it is still possible for you to develop osteoarthritis from it later in life.
The same is true for overuse or repetitive motion careers. For example, if you are a carpenter who swings a hammer in repetitive motions as a crucial part of the job, you may develop osteoarthritis in the joints of your elbows or hands. If you are overweight, you may also be at a higher risk for developing osteoarthritis, as additional strain is being put on your knee and hip joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis is not as easily understood. It develops as an autoimmune response, meaning that the immune system sees the joints as a threat and decides to attack them. Researchers have come to believe that your medical history, environment, and hormones could all be contributing factors toward the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Because it is an autoimmune condition, it is common for it to affect the same joints on different sides of the body.
How will physical therapy treatments help my arthritis?
Those suffering from arthritic pain can benefit greatly from physical therapy. Often our patients, are able to avoid surgery, medications, and injections. Your Kirkland, WA physical therapist conducts a physical evaluation to determine what is the best course of treatment for you.
Physical therapy helps by restoring the normal motion of your joints, improving the strength of supporting muscles, and improving the way you walk, run, bend and move. Our treatments are tailored to your specific needs to help you recover quickly and have a more permanent outcome. We also teach you ways to prevent future joint injury, and what you can do on your own with the correct therapeutic exercises.
If you are experiencing arthritic symptoms and you are looking to find long-lasting relief, make an appointment with our dedicated physical therapists at Washington Physical Therapy today.
What are the symptoms for arthritis pain?
Do your joints feel stiff, achy, or painful, especially when you wake up in the morning? If so, you may be experiencing the effects of arthritis. This is one of the most common symptoms of arthritis, but it is common to also experience accompanying symptoms. Other sensations you may experience with arthritis include pain in the affected region, which may spread to surrounding body parts; persistent stiffness; inflammation; muscle spasms, joint creaking, clicking, or popping sounds; increased pain with certain activities, such as work or exercise; decreased range of motion in the affected area, abnormalities in gait, such as limping; swelling; weakness; and a warm sensation in the affected joint.
What are the best physical therapy treatments for arthritis pain?
Regardless of the cause of arthritis, physical therapy plays a major role in the treatment of its symptoms. Your physical therapist will conduct a physical evaluation to analyze your joint movement, muscle strength, and overall function, in order to pinpoint the exact areas that are causing you pain. You will then be prescribed a personalized treatment plan, focused on your specific needs. Treatment plans will include targeted stretches and exercises aimed at relieving your pain and improving your function, in addition to any specialized methods your physical therapist deems fit. This may include manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound. Your physical therapist may also include additional services as needed, such as weight management techniques to help ease some stress on your joints, and/or posture improvement to relieve stiffness and prevent injury.
Can arthritis affect different body parts?
There are over 100 different types of arthritis, containing monoarthritis (where only one joint is affected) and oligoarthritis (where multiple joints are affected). According to the Centers for Disease Control, roughly 54.4 million U.S. adults are diagnosed with some form of arthritis per year. As we age, the cartilage in our joints wears down, causing painful bone-on-bone rubbing, inflammation, stiffness, and pain. While it is possible for arthritis to develop in any of the joints, the fingers, elbows, shoulders, lower back, hips, and knees are among the most common.
Can arthritis be cured?
While there is no cure for arthritis yet, it is possible to alleviate arthritic symptoms by improving your joint movement, muscle strength, balance, and coordination through physical therapy treatments. In some cases, physical therapy can even make it possible to eliminate symptoms entirely. For best results, it is in your best interest to consult with a physical therapist as soon as you begin noticing arthritic symptoms. The sooner they get treated, the easier they are to manage. Whatever type of arthritis you may be suffering from, physical therapy undoubtedly plays an important role in pain relief. In addition, it can also help you avoid the need for harmful pain-management drugs or invasive surgical correction.