Health & Longevity

Reduce Arthritis Pain With Geriatric Physical Therapy

Arthritis, while exceptionally common, can be extremely debilitating and difficult to treat. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), About 1 in 4 US adults (23.7%) or about 58.5 million people have doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Of the US adults diagnosed with arthritis, About 43.5% (23.7 million) have limitations in their usual activities due to their arthritis.

Despite the overwhelming prevalence of arthritis and the immense impact that it can have on the quality of life of those affected, there is no known cure. That being said, just because there is no cure doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you can do. There are numerous avenues that you can follow in pursuit of arthritic pain relief, and one of the healthiest among them is geriatric physical therapy. 

What is Arthritis? 

Before we explain how you can help treat arthritis symptoms with geriatric physical therapy, it’s essential to understand what arthritis is and what it means to be diagnosed with arthritis. 

The term arthritis does not refer to a singular disease; it actually refers to the symptom of joint pain and discomfort. There are many different causes of arthritis; in fact, there are more than 100. While they all vary in their specific causes, they share one common primary symptom that has grouped them as a cause of arthritis: Joint pain, swelling, and decreased range of motion. According to the Arthritis Foundation, this is the defining attribute of arthritis, an ailment that is the leading cause of disability in America.

While there are many different kinds of arthritis, some are far more prevalent than others. Some of the most common forms of arthritis include: 

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout 
  • Lupus
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Reactive arthritis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Septic arthritis
  • Thumb arthritis

How Can Seniors Reduce Arthritis Pains? 

While there is no cure for arthritis, there are numerous treatments available designed to decrease the pain and discomfort of arthritis and increase your strength and range of motion. Due to the fact that arthritis doesn’t refer to a singular cause but instead to a symptom of many different diseases and ailments, treatment options for arthritic pain vary widely. We have highlighted some of the treatments for arthritis pain below: 

  • Geriatric physical therapy 
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 
  • Counterirritant creams and ointments 
  • Steroids 
  • Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
  • Joint repair surgery 
  • Joint replacement 
  • Joint fusion 
  • Weight loss 
  • Exercise 
  • Assistive devices such as canes and walkers

Another excellent way to help reduce arthritic pains is to invest in an adjustable hospital bed. Sleeping is oftentimes a challenge for seniors with arthritis as they toss and turn in an effort to relieve joint pressure and find comfort. An adjustable hospital bed like those sold by TransferMaster makes repositioning easy, and they are capable of up to 5 different functions allowing a diverse array of sleeping positions. These beds are also an excellent way to improve mobility, as they can be raised and lowered electronically. Adjustable hospital beds are an ideal solution for those who struggle with arthritis and can lead to greater comfort, mobility, and independence in your home. 

While many people have found pain relief and/or improved range of motion through the treatments noted above, determining which specific method(s) you should pursue is entirely dependent on the type of arthritis with which you are inflicted. Many of the treatment options noted above can be pursued without a doctor’s assistance. Still, receiving a professional opinion from a physician or specialist can help you pursue the most appropriate and effective treatment methods for your specific circumstances, giving you the best chance at lasting pain relief. 

One excellent form of arthritis pain treatment is geriatric physical therapy. It’s a natural, healthy form of arthritis treatment that can reduce or even entirely remove arthritis pain. It can also provide other health benefits as well, leading to greater overall health and quality of life. 

What Is Geriatric Physical Therapy? 

Geriatric physical therapy refers to a form of therapy that is designed specifically for older adults. It’s designed to help tackle the challenges we face as we age, including decreased strength, balance, mobility, and arthritis. While the setting and layout of your geriatric physical therapy session can vary greatly, the focus of the physical therapy session always remains on improving your comfort and mobility as you age. Geriatric physical therapy can allow patients to live comfortably and maintain the greatest level of independence as they age in place or a nursing home. 

How Does Geriatric Physical Therapy Work? 

Geriatric physical therapy sessions are convenient and flexible. While the process will look different depending on the clinic, it generally begins with an initial evaluation with your geriatric physical therapist. They will assess your current state of health and devise a plan to help you overcome any challenges you’re currently facing, which in this case would include arthritis.

They’ll likely demonstrate and run through the physical therapy exercises that they are recommending and often will send you home with exercises to do on your own. Otherwise, regularly scheduled visits might be used so that the exercises can be performed in the clinic under the supervision of your physical therapist. This routine will continue either indefinitely or until you feel confident in your ability to undertake the task of maintaining your health and reducing arthritic pains on your own.

What kind of Exercises Are Used To Treat Arthritis 

Just as the different causes of arthritis vary, so do the types of exercises used to treat the pain and loss of dexterity associated with arthritis. That being said, some exercises that you might benefit from could include: 

  • Stretching 
  • Walking 
  • Water Exercises 
  • Hand Exercises 
  • Neck Rotations 
  • Swimming 
  • Water aerobics 
  • Elliptical 

These are only a few of the seemingly infinite different exercises that can be used as physical therapy or in addition to physical therapy for arthritis. Each exercise comes with different benefits, and it will be the task of your geriatric physical therapist to determine which exercises are best suited for your needs. 

How Effective is Geriatric Physical Therapy for Arthritis?

Due to the wide variety of different forms of arthritis, it is impossible to make a generalization about the effectiveness of geriatric physical therapy as a form of treatment for arthritis. The degree to which you could expect results from physical therapy for arthritis depends entirely on the cause of your arthritis and any coexisting conditions.

For example, obesity is prevalent amongst those with arthritis, and 31% of obese U.S. adults report having doctor diagnosed arthritis. While it is possible to treat arthritis without losing weight, the increased strain on joints due to obesity can make it less effective. This is just one example of how your co-existing conditions can play a significant role in the effectiveness of geriatric physical therapy for arthritis. 

We’ve highlighted some forms of arthritis that are commonly treated with geriatric physical therapy below. 

  • Psoriatic Arthritis 
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout 
  • Lupus 
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The causes of arthritis noted above are only a few of many different causes of arthritis that can be treated with geriatric physical therapy.  If you are interested in reducing the effects of your arthritis and improving your overall quality of life, speak with your doctor to determine if physical therapy is right for you. 

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Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. We started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. Twenty-five years later, our customers are still at the center of everything we do. You’ll feel the difference.