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Living with Arthritis: Tips for Managing Pain and Improving Mobility

Are you experiencing stiff and achy joints that limit your daily activities? It’s easy to dismiss these symptoms as a normal part of aging, but they could be a sign of something more serious. Arthritis pain affects millions of people worldwide and can be a frustrating and debilitating condition. 

At Natural Fit Therapy, we’ve treated many people just like you, who are experiencing arthritis pain and seeking relief. So, you’re not alone and we’re here to help! 

When it comes to managing arthritis, many people ask us the same question: “What can I do to reduce my pain?” While most people understand that arthritis won’t simply disappear on its own, they often struggle to take action. Some may feel unsure about how to improve their arthritis pain, while others may believe that nothing can be done. However, there are many options available to help manage arthritis pain and maintain an active lifestyle as you age. In this article, we’ve collected some helpful tips to get you started, but first let’s explore how physical therapy can aid in arthritis management.

How to manage arthritis pain on a daily basis:

  1. Stay Active: It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you’re in pain, but physical activity is essential for managing arthritis symptoms. Exercise helps to maintain joint flexibility, reduce stiffness, and improve muscle strength. Low-impact exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling are great options for people with arthritis.   It’s common for arthritic patients to experience their worst pain in the morning, but as they get moving throughout the day, the pain generally feels better. Gentle mobility activities in the morning can make things feel better. 
  2. Avoid Overloading: Many patients with arthritis have issues with weakness in the supporting structures of their muscles. So, it’s important to avoid overloading the joint and muscles as they may be weak and sensitive. Maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce pain and improve mobility. Carrying extra weight puts more stress on your joints, which can exacerbate arthritis symptoms.  A balanced diet, regular exercise, and portion control are essential for managing your weight.  
  3. Use Heat and Cold Therapy: Heat can help to soothe stiff joints, while cold therapy can reduce inflammation and swelling. Experiment with different temperatures to see what works best for you. A warm bath, heating pad, or warm towel can provide relief, while ice packs or cold compresses can help reduce inflammation. 
  4. Get Enough Sleep: Fatigue and lack of sleep can worsen arthritis symptoms. Make sure you’re getting enough restful sleep each night to help manage your pain. Establish a bedtime routine, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and create a sleep-conducive environment. 
  5. Practice Relaxation Techniques: Stress can make arthritis pain worse, so finding ways to manage stress is crucial. Try meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to help relax and reduce tension. 
  6. Manual therapy (hands-on techniques) – Healthcare professionals such as physical therapists can perform hands-on techniques. These techniques can help to improve joint range of motion, reduce pain, and enable muscles and joints to move more freely and efficiently. 
  7. Physical therapy – Physical therapy can be an extremely effective modality in arthritis management. It’s important to have a consultation with a qualified physical therapist who will be able to address your individual needs. Physical therapy uses proven techniques to maintain mobility and reduce pain. A generalized, cookie cutter approach is not effective as every patient’s needs are different. During the therapy assessment for arthritis, therapists look for key indicators of pain and mobility issues, such as joint tenderness, stiffness, and decreased range of motion. From there, they develop a personalized treatment plan to address your specific needs.

How does physical therapy help with arthritis pain?

Let’s think about pain as a puzzle. Arthritis can be one piece of the puzzle that contributes to our pain problems. Despite the common belief that arthritis is always correlated with pain, research shows that this is not necessarily the case. Arthritis is a normal process of aging, and it’s not unusual to see arthritic changes in our joints as we get older.

While we can’t reverse the degree of arthritic change that has happened in our joints, we can still change some of the other factors: our sleep quality, activity levels, muscle strength, joint range of motion, emotional health, and ability to participate in activities we enjoy. In some cases, patients with progressed advanced arthritic conditions may require some type of surgical intervention, which can be effective in managing pain. However, our recommendation is to try a more conservative approach first, like the ones listed above, before considering surgery. If surgery is the chosen option, physical therapy can also help these patients by preparing them for surgery, strengthening their muscles, and getting them ready for better outcomes.  

Living with arthritis can be challenging, but with the right management techniques like physical therapy, it’s possible to reduce pain and improve mobility. You can take control of your arthritis and get back to doing the things you love. 

If you need help getting started and don’t feel comfortable on your own, one of our physical therapists would be happy to come to see you and help you get started safely. 

Please Call 512-730-0231 If you have any questions about your arthritis issueOr click here if you would like to schedule a FREE Discovery Session 

Ryan e1657920030149
Author

Dr. Ryan Seifert

Natural Fit Physical Therapy

"We Help Adults 50+ Become More Active, Stay Healthy, And Avoid Slowing Down Without Pain Pills, Injections, Or Surgery."

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