Joint pain caused by arthritis can be debilitating because it interferes to your everyday routines and tasks. Reducing the pain involves lifestyle changes such as weight management, proper exercise, and diet modifications. Of course, physical therapy plays a crucial role in joint pain management.
What Is Physical Therapy?
Physical therapy aims to improve gait, balance, and movements, which include passive and active modalities. Heat and cold application, manual therapy, cupping, and electrical stimulation are some of the examples of passive physical therapies.
On the other hand, active modalities include movement-based activities such as pain relief exercises, specific strengthening exercises, low-impact aerobic conditioning, range of motion exercises, and stretching.
Considerations In Physical Therapy
Physical therapists help people improve their mobility, movement, and function to perform activities of daily living with ease and confidence. A therapist can help you perform physical therapy using the right tools, techniques, and even the proper outfit from keswi.com and others that you can wear during sessions.
Below are the do’s and don’ts of physical therapy you need to know for joint pain:
Arthritis can limit attaining a full range of motion, and exercise can be challenging when you have joint pain. However, you need range-of-motion exercises (ROM) to make joints more flexible and stronger. But what do you need to keep in mind when performing ROM exercises?
- Have some ROM exercises every day to relieve joint stiffness and pain. You can perform these exercises every morning once you get up in bed and after sitting for several hours.
- Move your joints gently and regularly.
- Perform each ROM exercise at least thrice a day and move slowly until you feel a slight stretch.
- Consult your doctor or physical therapist about new exercise routines suitable for your arthritis condition.
- Don’t overdo it. Stop if ROM causes pain. Pain shouldn’t feel severe. Avoid ROM exercises for a few days until the pain subsides.
- Don’t exercise on your own. Seek assistance always.
Heat and Cold Application
Heat therapy relaxes your muscles and lubricates your joints because it dilates blood vessels such as capillaries, which improves blood flow in the affected areas. It can reduce joint stiffness, pain, and muscle spasms.
On the other hand, cold can help alleviate swelling, numb pain, and reduce inflammation for acute injuries and arthritis. What are the important things you need to know about heat and cold application when dealing with joint pain?
- Check the temperature when using heat therapy to avoid burning your skin.
- Use a hot water bottle, a warm bath whirlpool, or spa therapy with a temperature you can tolerate.
- Sit on a stool with a rubber stand for safety during a warm shower to flow constant heat on the inflamed joint.
- Apply moist heat 15 minutes before and after exercise.
- Don’t exceed heat or cold application for more than 15 minutes.
- Don’t apply heat or cold over an open wound, cut, or abrasion because the deeper skin areas are sensitive, leading to more skin damage.
Cardio or Aerobic Exercises
Cardio or aerobic exercises strengthen the lungs and heart as well as the muscles that support the knees, improving their flexibility. What are the important tips to keep in mind when performing aerobic exercises for joint pain?
- You can perform stretching and weight training.
- Walk, swim, bike, or use elliptical machines.
- Consider tai chi to improve balance and relieve joint stiffness.
- Wear the right shoes with cushioned insoles to relieve knee stress.
- Don’t exercise without safety precautions. Wear knee caps and a helmet when you exercise to avoid wounds and bruises.
- Don’t do the routines without the essentials to help you move. Use handrails and keep the room well-lit during your sessions.
Arthritis involves inflamed cartilages and joints that cushion the bones, triggering the production of synovial fluid to lubricate the joint. This condition can be unbearably painful; if your hands are affected, you might feel worsening pain when doing repetitive tasks such as typing on a laptop keyboard.
One way to keep your joints flexible is doing hand exercises as they help increase the production of synovial fluid and increase ROM. Hand exercises strengthen your hand muscles, so you can move and perform your daily activities with less discomfort. So what are the do’s and don’ts of hand exercises for joint pain?
- Make a fist
- Finger lift
- Finger bend
- Letter ‘O’ hand exercise
Perform this exercise 10 times. Start with your fingers all straight out and bend them slowly to make a fist. After which, open your hand slowly to straighten them again.
Rest your hand on the table with fingers flat and straight. Lift each finger and hold it for a few seconds.
It involves your fingers straightened out, bending each at a time. Hold one finger for a couple of seconds before proceeding to the next.
Start with your hands straighten out and then curve your fingers to create a letter ‘O’ and hold this position for a few seconds. Repeat this hand exercise on the other hand.
- Don’t overdo it. Don’t perform hand exercise beyond your pain point. Be gentle and consistent.
- Don’t twist your hands, fingers, or wrists too much.
- Don’t forget to take your medications. Make sure to take the prescribed meds for your arthritis to avoid pain when performing hand exercises.
Resting is an essential part of physical therapy. Give your joints enough time to get used to movements and heal. Here are the do’s and don’ts when resting if you have joint pain:
- Rest in between exercises and physical therapy sessions.
- Eat healthy foods and drink fluids.
- Don’t rest too much and don’t maintain the same position for several hours.
- Don’t eat foods that can trigger arthritic conditions such as oily fish (salmon and sardines), red meats, processed and high-sugar foods.
When dealing with joint pain, it’s important to know the do’s and don’ts of physical therapy to avoid aggravating your condition. You can engage in exercises, therapies, and activities with moderation.
Perform activities with utmost gentleness and consistency, so your joints will get used to the therapy, making them stronger.