Physiotherapy for arthritis

Physiotherapy provides a range of benefits for all types of conditions which includes arthritis. It forms an important part of any treatment plan and helps to ease pain, stiffness and general discomfort caused by arthritis.

It is a very effective way of restoring flexibility and strength to arthritic joints.

Arthritis often restricts your range of movement and mobility which then affects your ability to cope on a day to day level. But physiotherapy can reverse much of this by means of a set of exercises which help to tone unused muscles and improve strength and flexibility.

Toning and strengthening the muscles in this way means that they will provide a firm support to the affected joint which prevents it from shifting out of position.

Find out more about the role of a physiotherapist as follows:

  • What will the physiotherapist do?
  • Treatment plan

What will the physiotherapist do?

A physiotherapist (known as a ‘physio’ for short) is a qualified healthcare professional who is based in a hospital or within a health centre.

He or she has an in-depth knowledge of the structure and function of the body, in particular the muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints and how they move.

He/she will assess your arthritis in the following ways:

  • Overall review of your posture
  • Assess your gait (walking action)
  • Ask you to perform a series of movements
  • Examine your muscles and the affected joint/s

The physiotherapist will demonstrate a range of exercises which you can do in the comfort of your own home. These exercises will help to relieve the symptoms of arthritis such as pain and stiffness.

These should form part of a daily exercise routine.

Treatment plan

He/she will also provide advice and support as part of an overall treatment plan. This plan will include exercise, massage, awareness of your posture, hydrotherapy (exercises in water) and pain relief methods. It will also include being shown how to use a TENS machine. TENS stands for ‘transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation’ and is a device which emits small amounts of electrical current into the skin. This current blocks the transmission of pain messages and releases ‘feel good’ hormones known as endorphins.

The physiotherapist will refer you to other healthcare professionals if necessary.

Your GP can refer you to a physiotherapist or there is the option to find one yourself. This will mean paying for a physiotherapist as a private patient.

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