Arthritis is a common condition treated by physical therapists. Goals typically include:
- Improving the mobility and restoring the use of affected joints
- Increasing strength to support the joints
- Maintaining overall fitness
- Preserving the ability to perform daily activities.
A physical therapist will first develop an individualized plan of care designed to improve flexibility, strength, coordination, and balance to achieve optimal physical function. Physical therapists will teach you proper posture and body mechanics for common daily activities to relieve pain and improve function. If necessary, you may be shown how to properly use assistive devices such as walkers and canes. Physical therapists may also recommend different treatment options, such as braces and splints to support joints, shoe inserts to relieve stress on the lower extremities, and hot and cold therapy to ease joint pain and stiffness. The key to a successful outcome is learning to perform the exercises correctly and safely from a physical therapist and continuing to practice them at home over the long term.