While it’s true that arthritis sufferers can find relief through movement and exercise, those living with the disorder may naturally assume such treatments would be painful. But not so, said local physical therapist Mary Beth Ackerman.
“Movement is definitely medicine for those who suffer from arthritis, but that doesn’t mean you have to move through pain,” said Ackerman, co-owner of PhysioCare Physical Therapy in Woodinville and Duvall. “If exercise is painful, it can cause harmful inflammation. But mobility will go far to minimize arthritis symptoms.”
For instance, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), older adults with knee osteoarthritis who engage in moderate physical activity at least three times each week can reduce the risk of arthritis-related disability by 47 percent. Working with a physical therapist to develop a customized treatment and exercise plan will work to encourage mobility while creating a pain-free environment – one that doesn’t cause or extend pain.
An ailment often associated with seniors and the elderly, the CDC estimates that 62 percent of adults with arthritis are actually under the age of 65. About 52.5 million adults and 294,000 children suffer from some form of arthritis, says the CDC.
According to Ackerman, physical therapy is effective in treating most types of arthritis. Through the facilitation of fluid joint movement as well as the improvement of muscle strength and flexibility, arthritis pain and joint stiffness can be reduced.
The key, Ackerman adds, is following individualized treatment plans that consist of pain-free movements and exercises designed to expand over time as inflammation subsides. Movement, she said, offers nourishment to the joints, areas where degenerative changes to cartilage is likely occurring.
“Our joints have a way to naturally pumping out and removing wasteful byproducts within the joint that can cause it harm,” Ackerman said. “This system is stimulated through the facilitation of movement through exercise and mobility, offering natural nourishment to the joints.”
Improving muscle strength is also effective in treating arthritis. With stronger muscles, Ackerman said, come better joint stability and reduced joint stress, which together can reduce arthritis pain.
Such physical therapy treatments can also prevent the need for dangerous and costly surgeries or prescription pain medication in order to maintain personal happiness and independence, Ackerman added.
To learn more about how physical therapy can benefit arthritis sufferers, or to schedule an initial assessment with a licensed physical therapist, contact the team at PhysioCare Physical Therapy.