As everyone ages, we may catch ourselves thinking the same thought: our joints simply aren’t what they used to be. Perhaps you are struggling with an injury that makes motion painful or perhaps you’re suffering from the age-related “wear and tear” of osteoarthritis. Whatever the case may be, one thing remains true: you can’t get around as well without the aches and pains.
However, taking painkilling drugs or leading a sedentary life in order to compensate for your daily aches and pains isn’t a healthy way to combat your condition. If you want to enjoy your life as fully as possible without being limited by joint aches and stiffness, it’s time to think about an all-natural answer: physical therapy.
How does joint pain and stiffness occur?
In order to understand how physical therapy can help you with your joint symptoms, you must first understand why those symptoms are happening. Joint stiffness and pain can develop due to a vast number of reasons. For example, in an acute sprain or strain, the muscles, tendons, or ligaments or the joint may be damaged. This can result in painful and immobilizing inflammation.
However, injury to the soft tissues doesn’t have to occur in a dramatic accident — it can also develop slowly over several weeks, months, or even years. If your chosen sport, job, or hobby causes you to repetitively overstress certain joints, you may end up with chronic tendinitis or bursitis. Sometimes, you can even develop soft tissue pain from doing nothing. For instance, a condition called adhesive capsulitis, also known as “frozen shoulder,” can cause your shoulder to become unusable if you’ve had your arm in a sling for a long time.
Perhaps the most common cause of joint pain and stiffness is osteoarthritis. Everyone gets older, and this condition usually stems from age-related deterioration of the cartilage between the bones in a joint. Another common form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, which is a painful and damaging joint condition caused by autoimmune issues.
What are the different types of physical therapy?
As you can see, there are many ways to develop joint aches and pains. Fortunately, there are also many forms of physical therapy that can address these symptoms, thus easing your pain and extending your range of motion. One of our experienced physical therapists will start by evaluating your condition carefully. This will include an examination of your overall health, your daily activities, and the nature of your symptoms. Evaluation of the joint itself and your ability to move it will also be a crucial part of your evaluation, as it can reveal exactly what the underlying problem is. This will lead toward the recommendation of specific types of therapy, such as:
- R.I.C.E. RICE stands for “Rest,” “Ice,” “Compression” and “Elevation.” If you are nursing an acute joint injury, your physical therapist will likely prescribe this protocol in order to reduce pain and swelling.
- Stretching exercises. Stretching exercises help injured muscles and connective tissues heal back to their former length and range of motion. These exercises are also good for keeping arthritic joints from becoming stiffer.
- Joint mobilization techniques. Joint mobilization techniques can help improve your pain-free range of motion and increase your function. You may also benefit from techniques aimed at breaking up internal scar tissue, which can form over old injuries and cause chronic stiffness.
Contact us today to get started on a treatment plan:
Wellbridge Physical Therapy is located in Bedford, NH. We also treat patients in the greater New Hampshire area.