Why am I not as active as I was before? Thoughts such as these are common as you approach your golden years and the first signs of pain and stiffness start showing up. But you know what? You are not alone! Statistics show that close to half a million people in the world above the age of 65 years are suffering from arthritis. So does this mean you ought to give up and accept the stiffness and pain as a new normal? Not at all! In fact, today we will tell you about a weapon in your battle against arthritis, so that you can live your retirement years with the same pride you had in your youth. But before any war, its important to know your enemy. Want to know? Read on!
What is Arthritis?
Arthritis is the inflammation of one or more joints with symptoms such as pain, swelling, stiffness, redness, and a decreased range of motion. Arthritis affects the joints in any part of your body, for instance, swelling or pain around the knee that can last for a prolonged period of time. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis out of which Osteoarthritis (OA), Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and Gout are common among older people.
How Can You Defeat Arthritis?
Though there are numerous pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs to control the pain and swelling, there is no sign of relief unless medications are accompanied with regular exercises. In fact, if diagnosed in the initial stages, the pain can be controlled to a great extent by opting for physical exercises under the guidance of an experienced physiotherapist.
How Can Physiotherapy Help You?
While medication remains the mainstay for many to combat arthritis, studies have shown that physiotherapy can significantly augment the medical therapy. In plain speak, this means that medicine, when accompanied by physiotherapy has a much greater chance of making your life easier.
Physiotherapists can help design a customized exercise program that will help relieve you of the pain arising from the symptoms of arthritis. Simple exercises such as walking or a swimming, which can help the muscle movement around the joints, can go a great length in reducing the stiffness.
A physiotherapist will first help you understand your condition. This is important, because only when you are fully educated about your condition is when you can make a difference. This will be followed by the right exercises and a list of dos and donts. Generally for arthritis your physiotherapist may consider providing you with the following therapies combined with various exercises and an adequate amount of rest:
- Ice pack
- Hot pack
- Electrical nerve stimulation
The physiotherapist may suggest exercises based on the degree of the condition such as acute or chronic and the number of joints affected. For instance in case of pain in knee joints, the probable exercise that your physiotherapist may suggest would be squats, leg cross, leg stretch and so on. Basically physiotherapy aims to improve the strength and tone of muscles around your joints and help to relieve your pain, thus improving the functional capacity of the body through regular exercises. Such exercises also help you to improve your lifestyle and general fitness.
Arthritis could develop due to genetic defect, hormonal change and, to a certain extent, due to sudden and drastic lifestyle changes. Nonetheless early diagnosis of arthritis can help you manage the condition and prevent further complications. Medications combined with physiotherapy can help you cope with the condition and you seldom require a surgery to correct any joint problems. However surgery can be avoided once you seek an advice at an early stage and follow the instructions of your health practitioner and physiotherapist. Various research and clinical studies have proved the effectiveness of physiotherapy in managing arthritis and is an effective means of treatment that you can rely upon. All the best and stay fit!