Arthritis is one of the most common conditions affecting older Australians with 3.85 million people living with its debilitating effects. Arthritis is based in the musculoskeletal system and causes swelling and inflammation in the joints along with pain, stiffness and damage to joint cartilage. As of yet arthritis has no cure, however there are many ways in which we can slow its progression and alleviate its symptoms. In most cases, having arthritis doesn’t mean you can’t continue to lead an active and full life.
Once diagnosed with arthritis, I recommend partnering with a physiotherapist who will educate and help you to design and manage your own individually tailored treatment and exercise program to manage the symptoms. Physiotherapy plays a very important role in managing arthritis and will help you to maintain independence by improving your mobility, strength and flexibility. Your program may include things like gentle weight bearing exercises, cardio activities and hydrotherapy. Physiotherapists have a detailed understanding of the body and movement and will to assist you in maintaining an active and mobile lifestyle. Here are some of the strategies I would recommend you employ to manage your arthritis symptoms:
For the most common forms of arthritis, physical activity remains one of the best ways to manage its symptoms. Along with maintaining a healthy weight and diet, I strongly recommend exercise in order to keep your muscles and joints healthy and flexible. Many people shy away from exercise due to the pain that arthritis can bring, however keeping active is incredibly important and can actually reduce the pain that initially comes with movement. Your physiotherapist can guide you on appropriate exercise for you.
2. Weight management
If you have arthritis, being overweight or obese is one of the biggest risk factors for further deterioration of your joints. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercise is one of the most vital things you can do in order to remain active and minimise the symptoms of your arthritis.
A fantastic way to stay active and minimise the pain of movement in affected joints, is aquatic physiotherapy (hydrotherapy). Hydrotherapy is an excellent form of exercise for those with arthritis, as the weightlessness provided by immersion in water removes the stress that gravity puts on your body. This enables you to strengthen your muscles without putting weight-bearing stress or high impact on your joints. Hydrotherapy reduces pain and improves mobility, muscle strength, balance, coordination and cardiovascular strength.
4. Whole Body Vibration Therapy
Whole Body Vibration Therapy (WBVT) is another excellent treatment for arthritis. It is a science based therapy that uses gravitational force to stimulate and train your muscles. I have used WBVT for years in my own consulting room and I am convinced of its value and benefits which are also scientifically proven.
Do you suffer from arthritis? What do you do to manage it?