PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR ARTHRITIS

Arthritis is an all too common joint disease impacting nearly 20% of Nassau County adults. For those struggling with arthritis, the daily contest of achieving a pain-free lifestyle can seem insurmountable.

At Hicksville Physical Therapy, we have developed innovative practices that are specifically designed to alleviate pain, increase mobility and improve overall mental health in arthritis patients. We are firm believers that arthritic pain relief is entirely possible, so long as one has the proper guidance and professional assistance.

Our team of licensed physical therapists takes pride in ensuring that the lives of our valued Long Island clients are not limited due to arthritis.

To increase your overall quality of life with arthritis, you must develop an understanding of the often debilitating disease, including its causes, symptoms, and the treatments currently available to you.

Though the CDC recognizes over one hundred unique forms of arthritis, the five most prevalent are:

Osteoarthritis (OA)

The most common form of arthritis, Osteoarthritis (OA) affects over 32 million adults in the US and is commonly observed in the hands, knees, and hips. OA occurs as a result of the breakdown of a joint’s cartilage and eventually leads to a gradual change in the bone. This slow yet tangible change often leads to stiffness, decreased range of motion, swelling, and varying levels of pain, with symptoms often worsening with age. As a result of these symptoms, some OA patients encounter extreme difficulty completing everyday tasks like walking up the stairs, carrying a handbag, or twisting a bottle cap.

Risk factors for OA include those with a family history of OA, age (risk increases with age), obesity, and joint overuse. Women, especially those over 50, are more likely to develop OA than men.

Surgical treatment options include cortisone or lubrication injections, realigning of the bone, or full joint replacement. For those seeking alternative options, it is recommended to partake in physical therapy, occupational therapy, or even transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) which utilizes low-voltage electrical currents to alleviate pain. Physical therapy allows Hicksville patients to develop a plan that is specifically tailored to patient’s unique needs, increasing chances of relief. Even if a patient pursues a surgical treatment option, physical therapy continues to be a vital component in continued pain relief. If necessary, a physical therapist may recommend the use of an apparatus designed to support the body during movements, like crutches, walkers, or canes.

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

Rheumatoid Arthritis, or RA, is both an autoimmune and inflammatory disease that occurs due to the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy cells in the body. The destruction of these cells causes painful swelling throughout the body. It is common for RA to attack multiple joints at once, leading to chronic pain. Those with RA tend to experience deformities on the affected joints, like hammer toe or round bumps on the fingers, and a lack of balance when engaged in physical activity.

Signs and symptoms of RA include fatigue, weakness, stiffness, pain, and swelling. With RA, these symptoms occur on both sides of the body, although symptoms may vary in degree of intensity on each side.

Newly diagnosed cases of RA tend to be at least two times higher in females than in males. Smokers, obese persons, and women who have never given birth are also more likely to develop the disease. Some early life exposures including children of lower-income households and children with mothers who smoked are at a higher risk of developing RA.

Although surgical options like robotic joint replacements have become increasingly commonplace, Long Island medical professionals recommend regular, supervised exercise as an ideal RA treatment option. Patients can expect to develop increased blood circulation, strength, flexibility, and muscle mass, all of which have been shown to aid RA pain. If routine physical activity is a newly formed habit, supervision is crucial; an incorrectly executed exercise may result in a major regression in patient pain relief. For those weighing this treatment option, it is essential to routinely engage a Hicksville physical therapist in order to lower the risk of injury.

Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

Psoriatic arthritis (PsA) is a chronic condition that frequently develops in company with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease that causes the premature growth of skin cells on the body.

Depending on its severity, PsA is treated topically with ointments or ultraviolet light therapy. For more serious cases, doctors may prescribe Methotrexate, a highly effective drug that can be injected or ingested. Patients experiencing joint pain and swelling are encouraged to partake in basic physical activity under the close instruction of a Hicksville physical therapist.

PsA cannot be contracted through contact; it is not contagious. Generally, women and men are at equal risk of developing PsA.

Childhood Arthritis (JIA)

Often referred to as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), this disease can lead to permanent damage to a child’s joints. Everyday activities like walking, engaging in play, or getting dressed become cripplingly difficult and may result in permanent disability.

The symptoms associated with JIA include overall body stiffness, joint pain, swelling, loss of appetite, fever, rash, and inflammation of the eye. Should these symptoms arise, parents are encouraged to schedule a visit with a pediatric rheumatologist to review the child’s symptoms.

It is extremely difficult to diagnose JIA because the causes of joint pain are numerous. Hence, a pediatric rheumatologist will most likely recommend x-rays and blood tests commonly used for suspected cases like erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and cyclic citrullinated peptide (CCP). If the results of the tests fail to show a considerable abnormality, the pediatric rheumatologist will then consider investigating further through imaging scans.

To alleviate the often debilitating symptoms of JIA, doctors will first recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or Advil. If those medications are ineffective, Long Island medical professionals commonly prescribe disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) which can also prevent the risk of future joint damage.

For those with JIA, maintaining a range of motion and keeping joints flexible will alleviate pain. It is very common for doctors to recommend pediatric physical therapy. A physical therapist may, in conjunction with bodywork, recommend joint supports or splints. Working with a physical therapist early in the diagnosis can prevent the need for surgery in the future.

JIA does not discriminate; children of all ages, genders, and ethnicities are at risk of developing the disease.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia impacts roughly 2% of adults in the US and is recognized by the CDC as a form of arthritis. This condition causes widespread pain, mental distress, trouble concentrating, tiredness, sleep problems, and migraines. Other symptoms may include tingling or numbness in the hands and feet or jaw pain.

Those who are of middle age or older and/or have lupus or rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

To diagnose fibromyalgia, medical professionals will conduct x-rays, and blood tests and thoroughly consider the patient’s history. After a proper diagnosis, a treatment plan is developed. Yoga, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy (for depression, if applicable), and exercise are all effective ways to treat fibromyalgia.

Because people with fibromyalgia are twice as likely to be hospitalized and three times as likely to develop depression as those without fibromyalgia, patients must enlist the expertise of certified professionals, including a licensed Hicksville physical therapist, in order to improve their quality of life. Physical therapists not only curate patient-specific activity regimes but will recommend self-management practices that patients can complete at home.

At Hicksville Physical Therapy, we have a hands-on approach to a pain-free life. If arthritis is causing you discomfort, we encourage you to schedule a free consultation with us at our state-of-the-art facility. Allow our team of qualified physical therapists to assist you in alleviating your pain and improving your quality of life.

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Hicksville Physical Therapy