May is National Arthritis Month; a time to raise awareness and support for the millions of Americans living with arthritis. Arthritis is a common condition that causes pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints. According to the CDC, arthritis affects more than 54 million adults in the United States. That makes it one of the leading causes of disability.
But there is hope for people with arthritis. Physical therapy is a proven and effective treatment to manage symptoms, improve function, and enhance quality of life. Physical therapists are licensed professionals who evaluate and treat conditions that limit the body's ability to move and perform daily activities. They can also teach you how to prevent or reduce the impact of arthritis on your health and well-being.
Physical therapy for arthritis can help you:
• Ease pain. Physical therapists can use things like massage, joint mobilizations, exercise, braces or splints, to relieve pain and inflammation in the affected joints.
• Increase range of motion. Physical therapists can design a personalized exercise program that includes stretching, strengthening, coordination, and balance exercises to improve your flexibility and mobility.
• Improve movement patterns. Physical therapists can teach you proper posture and body mechanics for common activities, such as getting in and out of chairs, climbing stairs, walking, or working. This can help protect your joints to slow down or prevent progression of your symptoms.
• Enhance your fitness level. Physical therapists can help you create a home workout routine that matches your goals and abilities. They can also show you how to exercise safely and effectively without aggravating your arthritis symptoms.
• Maintain function. Physical therapy can help you maintain or restore your ability to perform everyday tasks like cooking, gardening, shopping, or playing with your grandchildren.
Physical therapy treatment for arthritis is based on scientific evidence and tailored to your individual needs. It can also complement other treatments for arthritis, such as medications, bracing, or topical products. Research has shown that physical therapy can be more effective than steroid injections at reducing pain and disability in people with knee osteoarthritis. It can also have positive effects on fatigue, cardio fitness, cognition, and body composition in people with rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have arthritis or know someone who does, don't let this month pass by without taking action. Contact your physical therapist for an appointment. You can also visit the websites of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) or the Arthritis Foundation to find a physical therapist near you or learn more about physical therapy for arthritis. Celebrate National Arthritis Month by taking charge of your health and your life with physical therapy!
(1) How Does Physical Therapy Help Arthritis?. https://www.healthline.com/health/arthritis/doesphysical-therapy-help-arthritis.
(2) Physical Therapy for Arthritis. https://www.arthritis.org/healthwellness/treatment/complementary-therapies/physical-therapies/physical-therapy-for-arthritis.
(3) Ways physical therapy can alleviate arthritis pain. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/physical-therapy-for-arthritis.
Do you have pain with reaching overhead or behind your back? Do you feel achy pain on the outside of your arm while reaching? If so, you may have pain originating from the rotator cuff muscles. The rotator cuff muscles are a group of four muscles that help to stabilize the shoulder and perform overhead, behind the back and out to the side movements. Overuse can lead to irritation and tears, which can be healed with physical therapy. If you think you may be experiencing this type of pain or any pain in the shoulder, come get it checked out!
Some resources to read more:
What is Functional Dry Needling?
We use an acupuncture needle, which does not contain any medication, to insert into the painful muscle in order to provide pain relief. All of our needles are sterile, one-time-use needles made from surgical grade metal.
How does it work?
It works on a few levels. It kick-starts the healing process to increase blood flow to the area and reset “trigger points” or hypersensitive areas in the muscle. It helps to retrain the pain center in the brain that controls the painful body part.
What does it feel like?
It varies patient to patient, but typically the patient does not feel the needle break the skin. Once inside the muscle, it feels like a cramping sensation. After the needle has been placed we use electrical stimulation to help reset the muscle and pain sensation, which feels like a comfortable tapping sensation. It feels like a workout soreness for usually 24 hours then pain relief is felt around 48 hours.
How long does it take before I feel pain relief?
Usually it takes 2-3 sessions before the patient feels significantly better. Sometimes it is sooner than 3 sessions, but on average 2-3. The pain relief can also be immediate, but usually felt around 48 hours following the session.
What are the side effects/risks?
Since there is no medication within the needles, there are very few risks and side effects. It is a great low risk option to tackle acute and chronic pain. Muscle soreness is the most common afterwards. Needles placed in the extremities are the lowest risk, as it is not near the lung field. Needles near/over the lung field are increased risk of a pneumothorax (collapsed lung) if the needle penetrates the field. Our clinicians are highly trained and experienced and have never had any adverse effects with their patients.
What if I am on any blood thinners?
The needles don’t usually cause any bleeding. Sometimes you may experience bruising at the site, but very rarely.
What if I am pregnant or had recent surgery?
We do not perform Functional Dry Needling if you are pregnant or have a current active infection. If you have had surgery within 6 weeks we stay away from the surgical site. If it’s been 12 weeks we can needle at the surgical site if we have clearance from your doctor.
Can I try Functional Dry Needling even if I am not being treated as a patient?
Yes! If you want to come in for a trial without being seen as an established patient we offer 20-30 minute sessions starting at $60 per session. Functional Dry Needling is always more effective in conjunction with Physical Therapy (manual therapy and exercise). If you are interested or have more questions, please call to speak with Dr. Jill, Dr. Bobbi or Dr. Heidi. We are happy to help and get you feeling better!