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Physical therapy can be used to treat joint stiffness. By working with a physiotherapist for a tailored, personal program of physical therapy, you could increase mobility and even restore the use of certain joints. If you’d like to start with physical therapy for joint stiffness, keep reading to find out what’s involved and how it could help you manage and improve your condition.
Physical therapy can include a range of treatments, from a plan of exercises to hot and cold packs. While you don’t have to work with a physiotherapist for your physical therapy plan, it’s best if you do so you have an expert’s opinion on a program to get you moving safely and effectively.
The goal of physiotherapy is to treat or help prevent conditions that limit your body’s mobility and function, so it’s designed to help you engage in movements more effectively. If you have joint problems, physical therapy could be particularly beneficial.
Your physiotherapist could help you by recommending a plan for exercise. He or she could also assist with things like properly using assistive devices, hot and cold therapy, and modifications to your living environment.
Exercise is among the most important physical treatments for joint conditions like arthritis. By exercising regularly, you could reduce pain, enhance or retain mobility, strengthen your muscles, and maintain good overall health.
An individualised exercise plan can be helpful for preventing or enhancing flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance. A qualified physiotherapist can recommend specific types of exercises that target problem areas, while ensuring they’re not too stressful for the affected joints. He or she can recommend specific movements designed to boost endurance and for general conditioning. By targeting your joints and range of movement, you could reduce joint stiffness, retain mobility, or reduce the risk of joint conditions getting worse.
Additionally, your physiotherapist could guide you on proper posture as well as body mechanics for daily activities, with the end goals of reducing pain, retaining function, and/or enhancing range of movement. Your physiotherapist could guide you on manual stretching, everyday precautions to take if your joint stiffness is severe, at-home self-care, and injury prevention.
Manual therapy includes soft tissue and joint mobilisation techniques that target mobility and flexibility of joints, soft tissue, and other structures around the problem areas. The physiotherapist will work in a “hands on” manner to manipulate your joints, as well as stretch and massage soft tissues surround the joint. The aim of manual therapy include pain relief, increased range of motion and function, enhanced soft tissue flexibility, reduced inflammation, and tissue repair.
Hot and cold therapy can be an effective physical therapy that allows you to alleviate joint pain and stiffness. Cold therapy is used for more active inflammatory conditions and for managing this type of pain. Heat packs can be effective for painful, stiff joints, helping to sooth pain by stimulating circulation.
Depending on the condition of your joints, your physiotherapist could recommended other types of physical therapy. In addition to exercise and cold or hot therapy, your physiotherapist could recommend things like transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which is used for people in many types of pain, or ultrasound therapy. Other treatment options like soft-tissue mobilisation might be considered if you have related soft tissue injuries.
Once you’ve spoken to your physiotherapist about your history, symptoms, and challenges, he or she will likely conduct a thorough physical examination. Your physiotherapist should be able to create a detailed physical therapy treatment plan tailored specifically for your needs, symptoms, and goals. Generally, this should include exercises, cold and/or heat therapy, and other physical therapy modalities.
The physical therapy session could involve practising how to perform recommended exercises and daily activities. Your physiotherapist might take time to show you how to apply a hot or cold pack. If you have particularly stiff joints and use mobility assistive devices like walkers and canes, you could receive some useful guidance on the best way to use these.
To get the most out of your physical therapy, apply the tips and insights from your physiotherapist. In preparation for each session, make sure you think about any challenge areas, whether that’s specific joints or daily activities, and have some questions prepared for your physiotherapist. For example, if you find it hard to get out of your car or reach up high, talk to the physiotherapist about specific strategies to address these joint issues.
Make sure your physiotherapist has the correct licensing and qualifications. You could ask your doctor, friends, or family to recommend a physiotherapist, or you could find one through an industry group orgovernment site. Take time to talk to your physiotherapist and make sure they understand your history and what you want to achieve in terms of joint management and mobility.
Physical therapy focuses on exercise and is typically complemented with other treatment options like hot and cold packs and self-care tips. If you have joint stiffness, physical therapy exercise – from range of motion movements and general conditioning to stretching and progressive strengthening – could help you manage joint stiffness and possibly regain joint mobility. Staying active is one of the most important things you can do to manage joint conditions, and working with a physiotherapist for your physical therapy plan ensures you’re doing it right.
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