If your joints have been bothering you for a few months, know that you’re not alone. Joint pain plagues an increasing number of aging, often arthritic Americans. As a matter of fact, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in 2002, about 10.5 million people in the United States said they battled severe joint pain, but by 2014 that number had jumped to 14.6 million. That’s a pretty big leap, and it certainly leaves a lot of room for concern. The question now is, what exactly can be done to combat the painful effects of this ever-growing condition? The answer just might be physical therapy. If you have chronic joint pain, don’t ignore it or assume it will go away on its own. Give our office a call and set up an appointment with one of our certified physical therapists.
What is joint pain?
Chronic joint pain refers to “discomfort, aches, and soreness in any of the body’s joints.” Joint pain is common, but thankfully doesn’t usually require a hospital visit. The joints form where the ends of two bones meet, such as the elbow, knee and hip. Its components stabilize the joint and allow it to move freely. The joint components have a capsule, which is a sac that holds the joint. It’s filled with synovial fluid for lubrication.
There is also cartilage that covers the ends of the bones in the specific joint. Chronic joint pain lasts for months and can even last a lifetime. Pain may range from moderate to severe and can be extremely debilitating. If you’re dealing with chronic joint pain of any sort, don’t bank on it to heal itself without medical attention!
Causes of chronic joint pain
One of the most common causes of chronic joint pain is arthritis. This includes rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis progresses slowly and typically affects the knees, hips, hands and wrists. It can cause inflammation, pain and fluid buildup.
Other common causes of chronic joint pain are:
- Overuse of a joint
- An injury
The symptoms of chronic joint pain generally include stiffness, inflammation and tenderness around the joint area, decreased range of motion and decreased mobility. If your joint pain persists for more than three days, it’s time to see a physical therapist for a thorough examination in order to determine the root cause of your pain.
How can physical therapy help joint pain?
Physical therapy is a safe, holistic, and effective way to combat chronic joint pain conditions. A physical therapist will custom tailor a therapeutic exercise program to strengthen your body, increase your mobility and reduce pain. According to Verywell Health “Physical therapy for joint pain focuses on maintaining joint function and range of motion, strengthening muscles surrounding the joint, and minimizing joint stiffness and pain. Depending on your condition, your physical therapist may recommend a walking aid, brace, or splint to improve your functioning.”
A physical therapist will focus on the surrounding area of the joint pain. Strengthening and weight-bearing activity increase joint lubrication. For example, if you suffer from knee pain, the treatment plan will address impairments at the hip, ankle and lower back. All of these areas contribute to knee control and proper knee mechanics.
Your physical therapist may choose to utilize manual therapy to increase your mobility and to decrease your pain. This will likely include soft tissue mobilization and joint stabilization. Soft tissue mobilization is a hands-on technique that is used on muscles, fascia and ligaments. It breaks up any existing adhesions.
The goal is to reduce swelling, decrease pain, restore functionality and improve range of motion. If at any time your physical therapist recommends a stretch or exercise that is uncomfortable for you to perform, let them know! Honesty is key to a successful treatment outcome; they will be able to adjust the exercise so that you can complete it comfortably.
Are you seeking pain relief for chronic joint pain?
If you’re seeking relief from stiffness and chronic joint pain, call us today to make an appointment. Our physical therapists can help you! We use research-proven treatments for quick relief and help our patients get back to their normal lifestyle. Contact our clinic for a one-on-one consultation and evaluation, and get back to leading the life you love, free of pain and joint discomfort.