At SportsCare Physical Therapy in Northeast Portland, we often hear patients tell us “well the doctor says I have arthritis, so I guess I’ll have to live with the pain.”
We have treated many of those patients, and the majority have been pleasantly surprised with the results of decreased pain and increased function.
One of the main issues with arthritis, whether it is in the knee, hip, shoulder or spine, is the loss of joint mobility. When one loses joint mobility, the tolerances to certain forces, controlled or uncontrolled (as in a motor vehicle accident), is decreased and an excessive inflammatory reaction occurs causing pain and additional guarding of the joint, often leading to further loss of motion.
When a patient visits SportsCare Physical Therapy, we will perform a comprehensive evaluation to determine the degree of loss of motion, how the joint feels (is there a lot of crepitus or “crunching”) and how the joint feels at its end range. With this information, we can determine if there is good potential to restore joint motion, which will, more often than not, decrease associated pain and swelling.
I recently had a patient at NE Portland SportsCare who was resigned to the fact that she would need a joint replacement to be rid of her knee pain. Her ability to straighten her knee was significantly limited due to arthritic change and a recent aggravation which decreased her motion further. I determined that the joint was still healthy enough to increase mobility, as there was still “give” to the joint. We initially worked at decreasing pain and inflammation with modalities (ultrasound, heat or ice) then focused on increasing extension, or straightening, of the joint. Within a couple of weeks, her motion had increased significantly, and pain had resolved. We then instructed her in a comprehensive program to improve strength and stability of the joint, and she returned to her normal activities pain free.
We have treated a number of patients whose arthritic change in their spine resulted in sciatica, or radiating pain in the leg, often accompanied by a specific muscle weakness. The same can be true of neck pain with radiating pain into the shoulder and arm. Traction and specific joint mobilization in these areas results in decreased pain, increased mobility and return of strength in relatively few treatments.
If you are suffering from pain due to arthritis, please give us a call at SportsCare Physical Therapy. You will be surprised you have been tolerating pain and limited life activities for so long, when it could have been treated safely and effectively. If it is a situation where the joint is quite worn, and may be beyond conservative care, we can guide you in the right direction to receive the care you need, with the result being less pain and more function.
Thanks for reading!