Arthritis is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s characterized by inflammation and stiffness in the joints, which can lead to discomfort, pain, and reduced mobility. In the past, many healthcare professionals didn’t give people a lot of hope for a cure or even significant improvement. The word arthritis simply means “inflamed joint.” “Arthro” means joint. “Itis” means inflammation. Is it possible to do things to the joint to reduce the inflammation? Yes! Today we know there are things people can do to reduce and even reverse arthritic symptoms.
Types of Arthritis
Arthritis encompasses a range of conditions, including osteoarthritis (the most common form), rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis, among others. Each type of arthritis has its unique characteristics, but they all share common symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, and stiffness.
False believes about arthritis
1. Cracking knuckles causes arthritis.
While cracking the knuckles in your hands may not cause osteoarthritis (condition where the joint deteriorates and becomes inflamed), frequent cracking of the knuckles will cause inflammation of the joints. It causes the joints in the hands to become stiff and swollen. Cracking them will temporarily help them feel relief from this stiffness but, by continuing to crack your knuckles, you will continue to cause joint inflammation and stiffness and you will always feel the need to crack your knuckles.
If you can refrain from cracking your knuckles for a couple weeks, you will find the stiffness and need to crack your knuckles will go away. For this very reason, I don’t recommend people get regular adjustments from a chiropractor. The more you have the joints in your spine cracked, the more you feel you need it. If you stop going for a month, the joints along your spine will calm down and you will stop feeling like you need someone to regularly crack your back or neck.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have an issue with having your back or neck being cracked by a physical therapist or chiropractor intermittently when combined with the other stretches and exercises to relieve pain but, having your spine cracked often can actually cause pain. Many patients over the years have come to Spine PT with chronic neck or back pain and have been going to their chiropractor 2x/week for 2-3 years with only temporary relief of their symptoms. The treatment will temporarily give them relief to their stiffness and pain, but their symptoms always return and progressively get worse. I have to tell them to stop going to their chiropractor while I am treating them to get the fastest results. As they stop going to their chiropractor and begin experiencing the gentle way we get their joints moving – without cracking them, their joints and muscles calm down very quickly and they are soon out of pain, feeling great. They also no longer feel the need for their spines to be cracked.
2. Arthritis of the spine
It seems like the majority of people that come to Spine PT have a diagnosis from their doctor of arthritis of the spine. This is not an accurate diagnosis in what I would guess in over 95% of my patients. The experts in imaging are now advising doctors to not tell patients they have arthritis but that they have normal aging of the spine. Why? Because if the doctor is around the same age as the patient, his/her x-ray or MRI will most likely show the same level of degeneration and the doctor most likely doesn’t have any pain. So why are doctors telling their patients they have arthritis? I believe they mean well and are just trying to help their patients get answers to why they are having pain. When they look at the x-ray or MRI, they can’t see anything structurally wrong so the only thing they can think of is that it must be arthritis. This really is more of a limitation of our testing equipment. X-rays and MRI’s cannot see increased muscle tone, tight fascial tissue, inflamed muscle or tendon tissues, or tight joint capsules. These are the structures that are responsible for your pain as easily treated by physical therapists trained with advanced training in the spine.
Many patients are told by their doctor that they have arthritis in their spines and this is causing their back pain. While it is possible to have arthritis of the spine
Physical therapy offers a holistic approach to arthritis management, focusing on pain relief, joint function improvement, and enhancing overall well-being. Here’s how physical therapy can make a significant difference:
- Pain Management: Physical therapists use various techniques to alleviate pain, such as manual therapy, modalities like heat or cold therapy, and gentle exercises. These methods help reduce inflammation and improve joint comfort.
- Range of Motion: Arthritis can restrict joint movement. Physical therapists design tailored exercise programs to enhance flexibility and restore the range of motion in affected joints, allowing for better mobility.
- Strengthening Muscles: Strong muscles provide additional support to the joints, reducing the load and stress on them. Physical therapists guide patients through targeted strengthening exercises to help stabilize the affected areas.
- Education: Understanding your condition is essential for effective self-management. Physical therapists educate patients about arthritis, its progression, and how to modify daily activities to minimize strain on the joints.
- Assistive Devices: In some cases, assistive devices like braces, splints, or orthotics may be recommended to support and protect affected joints, helping individuals perform daily tasks with greater ease.
- Lifestyle Changes: Physical therapists provide guidance on lifestyle modifications, including weight management and ergonomic improvements, to reduce the impact of arthritis on daily life.
- Functional Improvement: Physical therapy focuses on improving the patient’s ability to perform essential activities and maintain independence. Therapists tailor treatment plans to address specific functional goals.
- Long-Term Management: Arthritis is often a chronic condition, and physical therapy provides tools and strategies for long-term management. Regular exercise, ongoing therapy sessions, and self-care practices are essential components of maintaining joint health.
Consult a Physical Therapist
If you or a loved one is living with arthritis, consulting a physical therapist is a proactive step toward managing joint pain and improving quality of life. Physical therapy offers a tailored approach to address the unique challenges posed by arthritis, allowing individuals to regain function and find relief from pain.
At , located in Sandy, Lehi, or Lindon area , our experienced physical therapists specialize in arthritis management. Contact us at (801) 709-4772 today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward a more active and pain-free life. Don’t let arthritis hold you back; we’re here to support your journey to better joint health.