Physical therapy is very effective at treating joint conditions and diseases. It can help your muscles become stronger and much more flexible. It can also help alleviate joint pain, and train your body to perform activities without complication.
Joint conditions are classified as disorders, injuries, or diseases. In some instances, joint conditions may be a combination of disorders, injuries, and/or diseases. Joint conditions detrimentally impact the joints. In some instances, these conditions may occur due to overuse. In other instances, a sudden accident or an underlying condition may result in the development of a joint condition. The good news is, physical therapy can help with nearly every single type of joint condition and disease. Continue reading to learn more.
What are Joints?
In order to gain an effective understanding of just how physical therapy can assist with joint issues, it is first important to understand exactly what joints are. In short, joints are where – at least – two bones join and come together. The most common joints are in the knuckles, elbows, shoulders, hips, and knees. In addition to this, there are joints located within the back.
All joints include bone and a wide assortment of soft tissues. Examples include cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Cartilage covers the ends of the bones that meet and make a joint. Ligaments connect the bones to one another to ensure optimal stability during movements. Tendons are flexible bands that directly connect the muscles to the bones so that movement may occur within the joints.
What are the Most Common Overuse Disorders That Affect Joints?
When a disorder occurs due to overuse, it means that the soft tissue of the joint has suffered damage. Overuse injuries are common among those that perform repetitive movements such as athletes, musicians, and even those in certain professions, such are carpentry. The following outlines the most common overuse injuries that detrimentally impact the joints:
- Bursitis – The bursa is a type of sac that sits at a joint and is full of fluid. If it comes irritated or experiences inflammation, movements of the associated joint hurt. In addition to overuse, bursitis may occur with an injury, an infection, and/or with an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis.
- Tendinitis – Simply put, this occurs when a tendon experiences too much usage. The tendon then experiences inflammation and there is pain when the joint is moved.
- Chronic Strain – If the same motions are repeated constantly, over time, the tendons and/or the muscles will start to stretch or they will experience tears in a slow way.
What Joint Problems Come from Injuries?
In short, the joint problems that stem from injuries include sprains, strains, and dislocated joints. A sprain is a torn ligament or a stretched ligament. A strain is when muscles or tendons become stretched or tear. If the bones of a joint are pushed or they are pulled out of their normal position, the end result is a dislocated joint.
What Types of Diseases Impact the Joints?
There are several diseases that have a negative impact on the joints. For the purpose and intent of this guide, we will place an emphasis on the most common:
- Arthritis – There are many types of arthritis. All of the types typically result in the pain and inflammation of joints. Arthritis is a disease that can result in highly severe damage to a joint or the joints.
- Lupus – This is an autoimmune disease that can result in pain in the joints.
- Multiple Sclerosis – This is a disease that commonly impacts the knee and hip joints. In most instances, this pain is nerve related or it stems from muscle manifestation.
How Does Physical Therapy Help the Joints?
Physical therapy aids in the ability to straighten and bend joints. It has been established that even small improvements in the range of motion aid in the functionality of joints. For example, if you have arthritis in your knees, the ability to slightly bend the knee a bit more may aid in sitting, standing, and stooping.
Physical therapy aids in managing the symptoms of joint problems. It may help in increasing both your standard range of mobility and in optimizing the amount and types of activities that you engage in. A physical therapist will develop an individualized care plan that is specific to your health and the joint problems in which you suffer.
What are the Benefits of Physical Therapy for Joint Problems?
There are many benefits associated with physical therapy for problems with your joints. The following outlines a quick snapshot of these advantages:
- When a joint problem is experienced, stiffness is the most common symptom and complaint. Naturally, if there is stiffness, it is hard to straighten up and bend certain parts of the body. Physical therapy allows for the gentle stretching of the areas around the joints. These are issued in way of range of motion exercises. By engaging in these types of exercises, you will obtain higher levels of flexibility. This will aid in performing daily tasks and activities of daily living.
- When the joints have issues, it is common for the muscles surrounding those joints to weaken. When this happens, higher stress is placed on the joints and more severe levels of pain are experienced. By performing the movements that a physical therapist prescribes, you will be able to strengthen the muscles. As a result of this, the joint will be stabilized and the pain will decrease that is being experienced.
- By working with a physical therapist, you will learn techniques for alleviating pain. Examples include movements that aid in reducing pain and techniques such as adjusting your daily activities. Physical therapy helps you with pain management so that you are not dependent on painkillers that could result in a wide array of serious health effects.
- If you require an assistive device such as a walking cane, a walker, crutches, various types of braces and splints, etc., physical therapy will help you learn how to properly use those devices so that you are capable of moving easily without placing a lot of strain and stress on your joints. In turn, you will quickly learn how to move and perform various types of activities without experiencing complications.
- Many people that have joint problems find that they – eventually – require costly procedures and/or surgeries. If you work with a physical therapist, you will be provided with a personalized care plan that addresses your specific issues. In time, you will likely experience marked improvement and will discover that you are not in need of having procedures or surgeries performed in order to overcome the joint problems that you are experiencing.
What Can I Expect in Physical Therapy?
The therapist that you work with when you start physical therapy will provide a personal treatment care plan that takes into account your health history, your current health status, and your goals.
You will receive a customized list of exercises tailored just for you.
You may be encouraged to use pain relief measures such as heat packs, ice packs, and electrical stimulation. You will receive hands-on mobilization and soft tissue massage. Additionally, you may be encouraged to utilize assistive devices.
Contact Us Today
If you suffer from pain, stiffness, or other complications with your joints, we here at Back to Motion Physical Therapy are capable of helping you. Our goal is to ensure that your quality of life is improved, you have a wide range of motion, and that you are capable of working through the complications that you are experiencing without depending on the use of prescription medications, procedures, and/or surgery. If you would like to learn more about our services, contact us immediately by calling the following number: 303-832-5577