Physical Therapy May Relieve Inflammation in Joints

Physical therapy may provide benefits to those suffering from Rheumatic disease, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

Incorporating physical therapy in to a wellness program may provide benefits to those suffering from Rheumatic disease, according to the American College of Rheumatology.

The ACR is encouraging these patients to discover the benefits of rehabilitation with a physical therapist as part of the month-long celebration of National Physical Therapy month.

Forty-six million Americans suffer from arthritis and other rheumatic diseases; 300,000 of these sufferers are children. The symptoms can cause pain and challenges in day-to-day living. These individuals often seek the help of a rheumatologist and rheumatology health care professionals, including physical therapists whose primary roles are to assist patients in preventing disability and achieving optimal function and pain relief.

Physical therapists are licensed health care professionals trained extensively on anatomy and the musculoskeletal system. In addition to visiting a rheumatologist, physical therapy can help patients improve or restore mobility and can often serve as a first line of defense before medication or surgical intervention is needed.

“When used as a part of an overall rheumatology care plan, physical therapy can effectively relieve inflammation and joint pain,” said Carol A. Oatis, PhD, a physical therapist and member of the ACR's health professional division, the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals, in a press release. “Rheumatic diseases are often complex, and physical therapists work in concert with other rheumatology health professionals to create a plan that allows patients to successfully manage life with a rheumatic disease.”

The ACR offers several ways a patient can assist their physical therapist:

- Develop and manage an individualized plan of care that includes personal improvement goals and self-management skills

- Use therapeutic exercises to relieve discomfort and improve performance by strengthening muscles

- Modify activities that are painful or harmful

- Adapt home and work environments to better suit individual needs

“Physical therapy is a successful tool that heumatologists use to treat patients with arthritis,” said Linda Ehrlich-Jones, PhD, RN and president of the ARHP, in a press release. “We are taking advantage of this month to promote the power of rehabilitation and the treatments that encourage a healthy way of living.”

In more than 43 states, patients have direct access to a physical therapist. In the remaining states, patients may be referred by health care providers for consultation and treatment.