According to the national Arthritis Foundation, osteoarthritis (also known as degenerative joint disease) is the most common chronic condition of the joints. Osteoarthritis can impact any joint but it is known to affect the spine (neck and back), hips, knees, wrists, fingers, and toes. Cartilage, a firm, rubbery material, usually acts as a shock-absorber by covering the end of each bone at a joint. Cartilage provides a smooth, gliding surface for joint motion. With this type of arthritis, the cartilage breaks down, which may cause pain, swelling, or stiffness. As the condition worsens over time, bones may break down and develop growths called spurs.
How can physical therapy help?
While there is no cure for osteoarthritis, physical activity is known to be one of the beneficial management strategies for the condition. Strength training builds muscle around affected joints and eases the strain put on them to reduce pain. Flexibility exercises help to maximize joint range of motion and reduce stiffness. After a comprehensive evaluation your physical therapist will be able to identify specific joints in need to strength and/or flexibility training in order to maximize your pain relief and overall function. When it comes to arthritis, you may hear members of our clinical staff telling their patients “Motion is lotion, and too much rest causes rust!” Low Level Laser (“Cold Laser”) therapy has shown positive results when managing pain and joint inflammation caused by osteoarthritis. Additionally, nutrition counseling with a dietitian/nutritionist can help you make smart dietary choices to manage weight and overall stress placed on your joints.