Joint Pain and Stiffness – A Vicious Cycle


Patients suffering the debilitating effects of arthritis can often find themselves in a vicious cycle of joint pain and stiffness. Arthritis causes mobility limiting joint pain and stiffness, which can lead them to a sedentary lifestyle to avoid the pain associated with stiff, painful joints. Unfortunately, lack of movement and exercise only leads to further Joint Pain and Stiffness from lack of use. It becomes a vicious cycle of pain reducing mobility, which causes more loss of mobility and subsequently more pain. The resulting downward spiral compounds the existing arthritic degeneration of cartilage, and in cases of osteoarthritis, increased likelihood of bone spur growth.

Joint Pain and StiffnessJoint pain and stiffness is one of the most common driving forces that bring patients into their doctor’s office every year. It has been estimated that arthritis conditions cost upwards of $100 billion per year, with nearly half that figure stemming from lost wages while the other half stems from doctor visits and hospitalizations. Joint pain and stiffness are generally treated on an outpatient basis with anti-inflammatory medications. However, doctors also recommend proper exercise to strengthen muscle and counteract the effects of Joint Pain and Stiffness. In fact, some doctors recommend physical therapy to help strengthen muscles and alleviate stiffness.

A physical therapist can show patients proper stretching and exercise routines to help combat joint pain and stiffness. This helps increase mobility, which further defends against the vicious cycle of joint pain and stiffness leading to more joint pain and stiffness. Physical therapists who specialize in arthritis patients or arthritic conditions are very knowledgeable about the best exercises and at-home routines to help provide relief to patients. Their main goal is to maintain mobility and decrease both current and future debilitating pain, muscle aches, and joint stiffness that threaten the activity levels of arthritis patients.

Physical therapy to treat the Joint Pain and stiffness associated with arthritis not only increases mobility and range of movement, it can also delay the need for joint replacement surgery in advanced arthritis cases. Studies have shown that physical therapy can even provide more pain relief from joint pain and stiffness than medications. Coupling physical therapy with occupational therapy can help patients learn to move without adding to the stress on joints that promotes joint pain and stiffness. In addition, occupational therapists can help patients modify living environments to maximize mobility while reducing daily activities that can aggravate joint pain and stiffness.