Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. It can happen gradually as the cartilage (protective tissue) at the ends of our bones begins to wear down. These degenerative changes can become painful over time with no clear onset. Osteoarthritis can occur in many joints in our body, but is most common in the hand, hip, knee, and spine. Arthritic joints may feel stiff or swollen and may feel more painful with increased activity and/or with prolonged sitting or standing.
Exercise and physical therapy can be very effective treatments for reducing the pain associated with osteoarthritis. Your physical therapist can work with you with hands-on techniques to improve the range of motion and mobility in your effected joints.
Your physical therapist can teach you specific exercises to help strengthen the muscles around the arthritic joint. Strong muscles can help support the joint leading to decreased pain and irritation. Your physical therapist can also assist you in finding an aerobic exercise, such as walking, riding a bike, swimming, and/or using an elliptical, that is comfortable and enjoyable. Aerobic exercises can help improve blood flow/oxygen to our body, which can lead to better lubrication of arthritic joints.
If you have been diagnosed with or think you may be having pain related to osteoarthritis, give your physical therapist a call. There are many hands-on interventions, as well as exercises, that can help reduce your pain and allow you to move more freely!
Allison Loudenback, PT, DPT