Some tips to alleviate the pain of arthritis.

By Simone Desouza-McDougald, Clinical Director, DPT, MCMT – Hands-On Care Physical Therapy

Arthritis, commonly referred to as Uncle Arthur, is the inflammation of one or many joints. Arthritis can affect people of all ages from the very young to the elderly. Once joints become inflamed, they are frequently stiff, painful, red and swollen. These symptoms often result in the loss of joint motion, impaired muscle strength and a decline in one’s ability to walk, stand and complete household chores.

Physical Therapy can aide in alleviating the effects of arthritis. Therapists perform assessments and then prescribe an individualized treatment plan for affected persons. The treatment plan usually includes tips to protect the joint, appropriate modalities to reduce pain and inflammation, and exercises to address deficits in mobility and strength. The therapist will also recommend assistive devices in more severe cases of arthritis, in order to take pressure off of the compromised joint.

Here are some things that people can do to alleviate pain in the hands and knees:
Hands: avoid lifting heavy objects, completing repetitive tasks, grasping things too tightly, use gloves to wash dishes, buy larger utensils or adaptive equipment to enlarge current utensils, and if forced, to perform repetitive tasks and take frequent breaks by stretching hand muscles in order to avoid stiffness and increased inflammation to the area.

Knees:  move legs back and forth when sitting greater than 10 minutes to avoid stiffness, improve flexibility of quads and hamstrings with stretching exercises, maintain a healthy body weight to avoid excess pressure on the knee joint and walk or ride a stationary bike for 20-30 minutes 3-5x/week.