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World Arthritis Day 2022: Is Physiotherapy helpful? Expert Answers

World Arthritis Day 2022: Some common symptoms for all arthritis types are extreme joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and difficulty in moving the joints.

World Arthritis Day 2022: Is Physiotherapy helpful? Expert Answers

World Arthritis Day 2022: Physiotherapy can help people with arthritis manage pain

About 15% of the Indian population or 210 million people are affected by arthritis, a condition that causes the inflammation of one or multiple joints. There are different types of arthritis with the most common ones being osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. The condition causes pain and stiffness in the joints which can accelerate with age. While arthritis mostly develops in adults over the age of 65, it can occur in younger people due to various factors.

Some of the general arthritis symptoms for all arthritis types are extreme joint pain, stiffness, swelling, redness, and difficulty in moving the joints. On World Arthritis Day, there is a need to raise awareness about the condition and provide help to those suffering from it. This is also commensurate with this year's theme 'It's in your hand, take action.' The idea is to encourage people with this condition to take necessary action and improve their quality of life. One of the most effective ways to do this is to help alleviate the symptoms and pain through treatment such as physiotherapy.

How does physiotherapy help?

Physiotherapists can help people with arthritis in resuming and maintaining an active and independent life. Given that they are experts in assessing movement, they can also help you understand how to protect the joints. Apart from this, they will also offer reassurance, help you feel confident about managing pain, address concerns, and also set goals for management.

With physiotherapy, it becomes possible for arthritis patients to build their strength, stamina, and mobility and activity levels gradually. The physiotherapist will devise a graded exercise programme that will enable you to increase the activity levels slowly without causing strain or adding to the pain. Physiotherapy for arthritis involves a combination of the following.

  • stretching exercises for easing aches and pains
  • strengthening exercises for building or maintaining strength in the muscles
  • general fitness exercises
  • proprioceptive exercises which help with balance, coordination and agility

Some of the aspects of a physiotherapy programme are as follows.

1. Rest and splinting: This is for people who are in the acute stage of the disease. Rest helps in relieving joint pain and puts them to rest in a functional position. It also helps prevent stress, stiffness, and deformities.

2. Ultrasound therapy: In this technique, the physiotherapist uses warmth and gentle heat to improve blood circulation in the deeper tissues. This helps in reducing pain and increasing movement.

3. Transcutaneous electrical stimulations: This therapy helps in increasing strength and preventing the progression of the condition. It also helps to improve movement and functionality.

4. Low-level Laser Therapy: This non-invasive treatment helps to reduces pain and inflammation and increase mobility.

5. Ice therapy: When ice pack or cloth soaked in cold water is applied to the affected area, it helps to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation.

6. Heat therapy: Just like ice therapy, when heat packs are applied to the affected joints, they can help in decreasing stiffness and improving blood circulation.

7. Massages: When massages with moderate pressure are given by a trained physiotherapist, they can relieve pain. This is because massages lower the production of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body.

8. Graded exercise: These exercises are started slowly and then increased in momentum. They not only strengthen the muscles and joints but also help in correcting body posture while carrying out daily activities for pain relief and preventing further damage.

Apart from this, the physiotherapist also helps with using assistive devices such as braces and canes to walk. They also advise on posture correction to avoid the condition from exacerbating further.

In conclusion

Today, it is possible to undertake physiotherapy sessions in the comfort of your home. There are home healthcare companies which can support with physiotherapy services to be undertaken in the home environment. Arthritis can be a debilitating condition but with timely management and the right kind of diet and lifestyle, it is possible to lead a near-normal life.

(Dr Vishal Sehgal, President, Portea Medical)

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