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As the nation’s #1 cause of disability, arthritis affects nearly 60 million adults and 300,000 children. Over 100 types of arthritis and related conditions damage the joints and often other organs.

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Getting Active with Arthritis: The Role of Physical Therapy

September 16, 20232 min read

Physical therapy (PT) is your best friend when you need to move confidently and comfortably. Trained professionals, known as physical therapists, are skilled in helping people regain and maintain movement in daily life, as emphasized by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

The essence of physical therapy is promoting movement. Whether it's the simple act of sitting and standing, walking around your block, or engaging in your favorite sport, PT has got you covered.

What's on the Physical Therapy Agenda for Arthritis Patients? Goals usually encompass:

  • Enhancing joint mobility and usage.

  • Strengthening muscles to uphold the joints.

  • Ensuring overall fitness.

  • Upholding daily life activities without hitches.

What Can You Expect from a Physical Therapist? Your journey starts with a tailored exercise plan aiming to boost your flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination. These experts will:

  • Guide you on maintaining the right posture during daily tasks to ease pain.

  • Instruct on using devices like walkers or canes efficiently.

  • Propose treatments like braces, shoe inserts, or hot/cold therapy for comfort and functionality.

  • Offer home or workplace modifications for a pain-free environment.

A Glimpse into a PT Session: PT sessions aim to empower you with knowledge and skills. These short, usually hour-long, sessions will pinpoint any functional challenges and equip you with home-care strategies. When visiting, have a clear picture of your pain points and desired outcomes. It could be as basic as pain-free grocery shopping or as ambitious as running a marathon. Based on your needs, the PT will craft the perfect plan for you.

You might not need weekly sessions. Occasional check-ins every few months might be all you need. However, if there's a change in your condition, like a sudden arthritis flare-up, your PT is there to readjust your plan. Remember, consistency is the key. The more dedicated you are at home, the better the results.

Seeking a Physical Therapist? If PT sounds right for you, get a recommendation from your doctor. While you might not always need a referral, always check with your insurance for coverage specifics. The American Physical Therapy Association offers a nifty PT locator tool for easy searching. When reaching out to potential therapists, ensure they have experience with your specific arthritis type or related challenges.


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Effects of Arthritis

Cause of Disability

In the United States, 23% of all adults, or more than 54 million people, have arthritis. It is a leading cause of work disability, with annual costs for medical care and lost earnings of $303.5 billion.

Workforce Effects

Sixty percent of US adults with arthritis are of working age (18 to 64 years). Arthritis can limit the type of work they are able to do or keep them from working at all.

Global Impact

In fact, 8 million working-age adults report that their ability to work is limited because of their arthritis. For example, they may have a hard time climbing stairs or walking from a parking deck to their workplace.

Promoting Interventions That Reduce Arthritis Pain

American Arthritis Foundation recognizes several proven approaches to reduce arthritis symptoms:

  • Be active. Physical activity—such as walking, bicycling, and swimming—decreases arthritis pain and improves function, mood, and quality of life. Adults with arthritis should move more and sit less throughout the day. Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week is recommended.

  • Protect your joints. People can help prevent osteoarthritis by avoiding activities that are more likely to cause joint injuries.

  • Talk with a doctor. Recommendations from health care providers can motivate people to be physically active and join a self-management education program. Should your arthritis be interfering with your activities of daily living you may be a candidate to receive many new treatments, and learn how to reverse the arthritis condition.

Getting to Know Arthritis

Find out what to expect with your condition, get easy tips to handle it, and learn more useful stuff

Learn more about Arthritis:

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Get better control of your arthritis with help from our experts. Arthritis can be confusing, but don't worry, we have the tips you need to make it easier to manage.

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