If you’re over 40, and have been to the doctor for back or knee pain lately, you’ve heard the
dreaded term Osteoarthritis. OA is the most common form of arthritis, can occur in any joint,
and involves the wearing away of the articular cartilage (cartilage that caps the ends of your
bones in each joint). Osteoarthritis often worsens and there is no cure, but that is not to say
there are not management strategies.
Rheumatoid arthritis may not be as familiar to you as OA, but it is something that can wreak
havoc on joints and is very painful. RA is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the
synovial membrane (the lining of your joint) that protects and lubricates joints. This disorder
typically affects the small joints of the hands and feet and can lead to damage of the joint and
These definitions sound pretty doom and gloom, however, there are many strategies that are
useful and can significantly help to reduce pain and restore function and activity. One of the
most prominent methods is manual physical therapy. Many things contribute to the
increased shearing forces that create pain in a joint, such as, swelling, muscle guarding, and
capsular restriction. Manual PT treats these dysfunctions to help the joint move better. This
reduces pain and swelling and helps you to increase your activities. Physical Therapy
provides you with the most effective exercise program that is least likely to flareup your joint
pain. If there is less pain, then you are more likely to move, which is ultimately the goal of
The take home message is: having arthritis does not give you a free pass to throw in the
towel and become a lazybones couch potato. Actually, an arthritis diagnosis should be
motivation to seek treatment designed to reduce the effects of the disease. Once your joints
are moving again, after you complete your therapy, you will have enough knowledge to
continue managing your symptoms through exercising and stretching.
There is no cure, however, there are management strategies that can be very helpful in
getting you back to your active lifestyle!